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  • Writer's pictureK. Arthur

"The Best Onion in the World"

Updated: Apr 1

If it doesn't come from Vidalia, Georgia, it's not the best onion God ever made. Only one onion is sweet enough to make an onion pie that's slap-your-granny delicious. But slapping anyone is illegal, let alone your Granny, and it would give a defenseless onion a bad name. The Vidalia is the kind of onion we can take home to Mama, and we want to keep it that way. It can be wrapped in foil and baked in the oven like a russet potato and served with a medium rare T-bone steak and fresh garden salad. I have seen folks eat them raw like a horse eats an apple. The sugar content is up there all right, but I would be more concerned about scarfing down a Moon Pie. Onions regulate blood sugar levels, while Moon Pies just make the love handles easier to grasp.

Some years ago, I took my groom, who comes from far north of the Mason-Dixon Line, to Chattanooga, Tennessee for his first time. We stood atop Lookout Mountain right where the Battle of the Clouds took place in the Civil War, the place where General Grant commanded Union soldiers to defeat my ancestors. As we looked down upon the peaceful blue waters of Moccasin Bend, I wondered if my husband felt guilty about being there. So, at the Battles of Chattanooga Gift Shop to make him feel a little better, I introduced him to the hallowed Moon Pie. It just so happens the famous marshmallow cookie was born in 1917 on King Street a few miles away from where we were standing. I could see him wince with every bite he took. Needless to say, a box of the iconic Southern treats has never graced our kitchen cupboards. But when I introduced him to the sweetness of the Vidalia onion, he welcomed it with an open mouth and said it could come to dinner at our house any time.

Some folks would say it is okay to substitute other onion varieties in recipes, but they would be mistaken. The Vidalia is juicier with a distinct sweet flavor, and there's something about the people from south Georgia that makes it even sweeter. The Vidalia Onion Festival brings in more visitors every year to the town than its population, with the crowning of Miss Vidalia Onion, concerts, dances, an onion eating contest, and the Blue Angels hailing the famous onion from above. And let me add that Vidalias won't make you cry when you're cutting them up, although I've been known to shed a jubilant tear when I come across a batch in the supermarket. Stock up when you can, April through early September while they are fresh, and keep them in a dark, cool place like a cellar or pantry to make them last longer. When you open the door to fetch one, do not let the sprouted tentacles scare you. They won't have a chance to wrap around anything, and the onion will still taste good.

For a vegetable that was accidentally discovered by an unsuspecting farmer during the Great Depression, it has done quite well for itself. Although it was a well-kept local secret until the 1940s, I am thankful the onion was let out of the bag. I hear it is available in all 50 states and Canada now. When God blessed south Georgia with the Vidalia onion, He blessed us all. But the Moon Pie? That's a different story.


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