An Everlasting Meal: The Onion Tale

An Everlasting Meal

It’s not often that I am as charmed and captivated by a book as I was by Tamar Adler’s Everlasting Meal. Her discourse on “economy and grace” in the kitchen is all about making the most ingenious use of the ingredients you buy, and giving new life to your scraps and leftovers — an approach that resonated with me deeply for it is exactly the way I aspire to cook.

Her beautiful, haunting voice, her wise words, and her sound advice come together into a timeless book you want to read slowly, savoring each chapter and pausing every few pages to try and commit to memory* a gold nugget of an idea that you particularly love.

I requested the publisher’s permission to share with you one of the many passages that delighted me. This one is found at the end of chapter thirteen, “How to Find Fortune:”

“I have heard of one lucky man for whom undervalued vegetables turned to solid gold. Here is the story as I was told it:

A farmer who grew acres and acres of onions became weary of trying to sell his onions at home, so he filled a carriage with bags of them and struck out to seek his fortune. After much journeying he reached a country where onions were unknown, and when he demonstrated their wonders to the royal court, the king rewarded the farmer by filling all of his onion bags with gold.

The farmer returned home and told his story. So his neighbor, a garlic farmer, took the same journey, to the same land.

The court was again bewitched, this time by garlic, and the night after a great feast, where garlic soups got the pulses quickened, and garlic chicken drove people to ecstasy, the garlic farmer was rewarded; his garlic sacks filled to brimming with treasure. The man drove straight back to his native land, aching to see his riches. When he finally arrived, he opened his bulging bags to find them full of the kingdom’s most prized possession: onions.”**

Isn’t it the best story, one you want to remember always and tell your children? Does it make you think of any other food-related parable that you could share with us?

* I read it on my Kindle and found myself in a highlighting frenzy.

** Excerpted from An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace Copyright © 2011 by Tamar Adler. Excerpted with permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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