As Julia Child once said, "It is hard to imagine a civilization without onions."
Historically, she's been right-and not just in the kitchen. Uniquely flourishing in just about every climate and culture around the world, onions have provided the essential basis not only for sautés, stews, and sauces, but for medicines, metaphors, and folklore. Abundantly commonplace yet extraordinarily indispensable, the onion is Kurlansky's most flavorful infatuation yet as he sets out to explore how and why the crop reigns from Italy to India and everywhere in between.
Featuring historical images and his own pen-and-ink drawings, Kurlansky begins with the science behind the only sulfuric acid-spewing plant, then digs through the twenty varieties of onion and the cultures built around them. Among the first domesticated and cultivated crops, onions were seen by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of eternity, the Greeks as an agent of strength, and the Chinese as a supplement for intelligence. Entering the kitchen, Kurlansky celebrates the raw, roasted, creamed, marinated, and pickled. Including a recipe section featuring more than 100 dishes from around the world, The Core of an Onion shares the secrets to celebrated Parisian chef Alain Senderens's onion soup eaten to cure late-night drunkenness; Hemingway's raw onion and peanut butter sandwich; and the Gibson, a debonair gin martini garnished with a pickled onion.
Just as the scent of sautéed onions will lure anyone to the kitchen, The Core of an Onion is sure to draw readers into their savory stories at first taste.
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times-bestselling and James Beard Award-winning author of The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing, Cod, Salt, Milk!, Havana, The Big Oyster, The Basque History of the World, and Salmon, among other titles. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Bon Appétit's Food Writer of the Year Award, and the Glenfiddich Award. He lives in New York City.
Kurlansky will be in conversation with Theresa McCulla. Theresa McCulla is the Curator of the American Brewing History Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. She has also worked for Harvard University Library, Harvard University Dining Services, and the Central Intelligence Agency. McCulla earned a PhD in American Studies and an MA in History from Harvard University, a Culinary Arts Diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, and a BA in Romance Languages from Harvard College. Her writing has been awarded by the James Beard Foundation and the North American Guild of Beer Writers. Her first book, Insatiable City: Food and Race in New Orleans, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in April 2024.