The putrid smell. The way they make my eyes burn like fire. Their acidic bite. The offensive odor they leave in your mouth for what feels like an eternity.
As a child, I loathed onions. This hatred was so powerful that my mom would have to read all of the ingredients on pre-made sauces at the grocery store. She spent hours of her life scoring the labels in search of a spaghetti sauce that was onion-free. Maybe that’s why she perfected her own homemade concoction over the years?
Salsa? Nope. I loved the flavor, but could not handle any “chunks” as I’d call them. As I got older, I’d actually take a strainer and remove all evidence of onion from the salsa and dip my tortillas in the remaining liquid, while throwing away all of the fresh vegetables that make salsa … salsa!
When I was 12 or 13, I was invited to my friend Carla’s house. I was thrilled! Carla was the girl that everyone wanted to be friends with – she was outgoing and always smiling. My time had finally come-Carla wanted me to be her friend and even better, she had invited me to sleepover!
I loved everything about sleepovers! From the anticipation to staying up until all hours giggling, telling our biggest secrets and playing our favorite games. Unfortunately, this sleepover changed my perspective and made me think twice before accepting an invitation from another friend for a very long time.
Carla’s mom was very stern. We all knew she meant business and that one of the worst things anyone could do was to upset Mrs. Warner. Respecting your elders was of utmost importance in her eyes and we were always extra-vigilant about saying our pleases and thank you’s when in her presence.
We all pulled in our chairs at the dinner table, put our napkins on our laps and said a prayer before digging in the the home-cooked meal Mrs. Warner had made. It was something called meatloaf-a new concept to me … what looked like hamburger molded into the shape of a loaf of bread. “Interesting,” I thought but knew that I should dig right in and show Mrs. Warner how grateful I was for her meal.
That’s when everything came to a sudden hault! First bite, mouth wide open, insert fork with a heaping pile of … meat? No such luck! Onion the size of a quarter in my mouth!
I feared Mrs. Warner, but couldn’t hold back a physical reaction. Eyes watering? You betcha! Nose crinkled? Yep! Gagging? Of course … would you expect any less from the girl who despised anything onion? Carla glanced in my direction and shot me the evil eye. The one that silently screams, “Control yourself before the wrath of mom heads your way!”
With that, I sheepishly asked to be excused to use the restroom. Before Carla’s mom could answer, she jumped right in and said, “Absolutely!” I just barely made it to the toilet before vomiting the entire contents of my belly into the bowl.
As suspected, I was not ill but for those of you who truly have an aversion to a food will relate, the odor, flavor and texture of such food made my gag reflex get the best of me.
Thankfully, once the vomit flavor took over the onion taste was gone. I was able to collect myself (of course, not before Carla came to check on me) and eventually exit the bathroom. To this day, Carla’s mom does not know what happened that evening over 20 years ago…. at least I hope not!