The Core of an Onion: Peeling the Rarest Common Food—Featuring More Than 100 Historical Recipes (Hardcover)

The Core of an Onion: Peeling the Rarest Common Food—Featuring More Than 100 Historical Recipes By Mark Kurlansky Cover Image

The Core of an Onion: Peeling the Rarest Common Food—Featuring More Than 100 Historical Recipes (Hardcover)


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An Eater Best Food Book of 2023
A Smithsonian Best Food Book of 2023

From the New York Times-bestselling author of Cod and Salt, a delectable look at the cultural, historical, and gastronomical layers of one of the world’s most beloved culinary staples
featuring original illustrations and recipes from around the world.

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. 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. Now they're 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 and history of the only sulfuric acid–spewing plant, then digs through its twenty varieties and the cultures built around them. Entering the kitchen, Kurlansky celebrates the raw, roasted, creamed, marinated, and pickled. Including a recipe section featuring more than one hundred 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 author of Milk!, Havana, Paper, The Big Oyster, 1968, Salt, The Basque History of the World, Cod, and Salmon, among other titles. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Bon Appétit's Food Writer of the Year Award, the James Beard Award, and the Glenfiddich Award. He lives in New York City.
Product Details ISBN: 9781635575934
ISBN-10: 1635575931
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: November 7th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English

"An unraveling of the onion botanically, historically, medicinally, literally, economically and gastronomically around the world … a lively read." - Florence Fabricant, the New York Times "Front Burner"

"A lively cavalcade of onion facts and lore from around the globe and across the ages … unfailingly brisk and pleasant." - The Wall Street Journal

"There are few authors better suited to exploring the history of the onion than Mark Kurlansky … Kurlansky manages to make the cultivation and culinary use of the onion feel like an epic tale as he follows the beloved allium across history, across the globe, and of course, across our plates." - Eater, Best Food Books of Fall 2023

"Mark Kurlansky has made a name for himself with deep dives into singular ingredients, as seen in his previous titles Salt and Cod. Now he gives another cooking staple a thorough analysis with his latest book: The Core of an Onion . . . Kurlansky delves into the science and history of the allium, including its 20 varieties, how and where it grows, and how it has become such a central ingredient worldwide." - Smithsonian Magazine, Best Food Books of the Year

"An ode to the most indispensable member of the vegetable kingdom. The Core of an Onion is definitely worth your attention" - Ruth Reichl, La Briffe

"Mark Kurlansky is the master of culinary deep dives . . . The slim volume, with lovely drawings by the author, skips across the planet, digs into historical recipes (there are 100 of them!) and dips into the onion’s place in medicine, literature, art and agriculture. It’s delightful and, unlike its subject, tear-free." - Dorie Greenspan, xoxoDorie Newsletter

"Food historian Mark Kurlansky goes deep on one of the first foods cultivated by humans … Kurlansky really shines when he examines centuries’ worth of recipes for onion dishes, from French onion soup to India’s pakora fritters to the humble onion ring. Cooks and history buffs alike will be charmed and fascinated by The Core of an Onion." - Apple Books, Best Books of November

"Enjoy this quirky treatment of a microtopic from the best-selling author of, among others, Cod, Paper and Milk! This book explores the onion and how it has shaped global cuisine through the centuries, with recipes." - AARP Magazine

"In his usual witty way, Kurlansky—known for his many best-selling single-subject food books exploring the likes of cod, salt, milk, oysters and salmon—presents the cultural, historical and gastronomical influences of the allium cepa in his latest work. After reading the 200 pages, including 100 historical recipes, it’s hard not to develop cepaphilia, a word Kurlansky coined to denote ‘the love of onions.'" - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"The Core of an Onion gives the starring role to the humble yet essential onion, combining beguiling nuggets of literature, art, medicine, botany, and agriculture with assured, bouncy writing and more than one hundred recipes … A sparkling mix of snappy prose with Kurlansky’s own illustrations, The Core of an Onion is a perfect treat that demonstrates the dictate that ‘onions have a way of taking on unexpected significance.’ "- The Foreword, starred review

"Kurlansky, a prodigious cataloger of comestibles, peels away the agricultural, culinary, and cultural history of onions layer by layer … Many photographs amplify the fun and a sizable bibliography enhances the usefulness." - Booklist

"A sweet, earthy aroma permeates this book, as Kurlansky delves into our enduring love affair with onions … [an] engaging, colorful book. Kurlansky, acclaimed author of Cod, Salt, Salmon, Milk!, and other food-related books, has a wonderful time with his subject, noting that onions have long been eaten in nearly every corner of the globe … A delightful journey that unravels the story of a key piece of nearly every national cuisine." - Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating and educational read, full of interesting facts … Readers are sure to emerge amazed by this narrative of the humble onion, and Kurlansky’s tongue-in-cheek humor is a delight. A must purchase for both foodie patrons and fans of in-depth and compelling history." - Library Journal

"Mark Kurlansky is exactly the kind of guy you want to be seated next to at a dinner party. It wouldn’t be hard to strike up a conversation with him since he can find (or make) any topic fascinating, historical, educational and downright sublime . . . The Core of an Onion stands proudly along the library of Kurlansky knowledge that graces millions of bookshelves across the planet. Don’t miss out on this book." -

"To love onions is to love the world as it is. If you've forgotten this grounding bit of kitchen wisdom, The Core of an Onion is the perfect cure. With his usual wit and insight, Mark Kurlansky finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. Your daily enrichment, not to mention your meals, will be forever enriched." - Rowan Jacobsen, author of TRUFFLE HOUND