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Onions (Oignons)

box of fresh French onions at the market, marked that they're pink from Roscoff in France

Random Facts About Onions in France

  • Yellow, white, pink or red onions are popular in France but the 2 most reputed varieties with AOC & AOP quality status respectively are the Cevennes and Roscoff onions, both particularly sweet and fruity;
  • Remember the images of Frenchmen with onion tresses around their necks? These were the famous French Onion Johnnies of the 19th Century, who cycled around England selling Roscoff onions door-to-door;
  • Onions are antioxidant, contain vitamin C and have anti-inflammatory health properties, particularly best to effect if eaten raw. Red onions are not as strong as the other kinds, so add these to salads;
  • Why do onions make us cry? Onions contain a sulphur-based gas which reacts with the water in our eyes, irritating them. To avoid this, chill onions for 30 mins and ensure that hands are washed in soapy cold water afterwards (avoid touching the eye area after!);
  • To choose the best onions, ensure the skins are tightly formed on the onion and not flaking off; avoid frozen chopped onions, as they lose tons of flavour during freezing;
  • Store onions in a cool, dry and dark place, not in the fridge. According to a BBC report, avoid storing near potatoes or in metal containers, as this will discolour them.

Fun French Expression With Onions

Occupe-toi de tes oignons” or Mêle toi de tes oignons”
Familiar expression meaning “it’s none of your business” (literally translated as “look after your onions” or “mix yourself up in your own onions”)


Onion Recipes

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