Don't Cry For Me, Vidalia
September 29, 2002

Bodily functions fascinate me. Not all. Just a select few.

Although I love them and happily add them in great mounds to any recipe that calls for them, onions wreak major havoc on my ocular implants. I know lots of people admit to crying when they cut onions. Not me. I don't cry. No, with me, it's more of a banging-my-heels-on-the-floor temper tantrum rather than just eking out a few decorous tears that don't muss my mascara. And it's absurdly painful. I have to literally back away from the cutting board, grind my palms into my eyes, and leave the room for a bit. I even tried using my Cuisinart to dice the onions, but once I take the top off, I'm on the floor, scrabbling for my gas mask.

I have been told all sorts of tricks to minimize my reaction.

1. Light a candle near the cutting board. The flame is supposed to oxidize the thiopropanol sulfoxide created after sulfuric compounds and sulfoxide lyase are combined once the onion cell walls are destroyed by slicing.1

2. Stick a piece of bread in your mouth.

3. Keep your mouth closed.

4. Wear goggles.

I think two of those are expressly aimed at shutting me up, and as for that last one? Well, I tried wearing sunglasses once and it didn't really make a difference. But I did look way sexier than I would have if I had appeared as though I was synthesizing compounds. I mean, should I invest in my own personal eye wash, too?

What gets to me is how severely it gets to me. Mathra doesn't really have a reaction when I'm chopping onions. Even if he's standing over me breathing down my neck, asking impossibly detailed questions about everything I'm doing. My mother brags that onions don't affect her in the least. Of course, she never had menstrual cramps, migraines, a cold, or labor pains, so I really don't know if I should put her in the control group. I've thought a lot about my savory setback and determined my allergies must be at the bottom of it.

Now wait, hear me out. Point one, I have allergies. Point two, for the aforementioned allergies, I must take Claritin-D. Point three, Claritin-D blasts my sinus passages so severely that sometimes my throat gets dried out. If you don't know what I mean then you've never had allergies or had to take an antihistamine-decongestant for an extended period of time. Point four, I'm on The Pill, which mimics pregnancy so well, my sense of smell is highly developed. Conclusion: I have such clear nasal passages and an overly developed sense of smell that the thiopropanol sulfoxide takes the western route of I-90 to my sensitive areas.

I'm thinking of documenting my findings in Scientific American, or at least telling Alton Brown about them.

[1] The Editors of Cook's Illustrated. The Best Recipe. Boston Common Press, 1999.

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