Etiquette & superstition: onions

Benny and I have a funny story about the time I made potato and leek soup out of some things I found in the garden that I was sure were leeks. They turned out to be ornamental onions, not leeks, and the story is really much better the way Benny tells it, but suffice it to say you should not make soup out of ornamental onions.

ETIQUETTE: Onions are not mentioned in a lot of early 20th century etiquette books. Vogue’s Book of Etiquette does broach the subject, but only to note that “A rule of formal dinners is that onions cannot be served, even in a garniture. There are some elaborately concealed exceptions to this, but it is a rule.”

As for non-formal dining of onions, I was able to find one source online regarding the placement of onions on a burger served in a “sit-down” (not fast food, not formal) restaurant, but the recommendation seemed incongruous to the eating of a burger – lots of business about not picking up the bun with one’s hands, eating the burger with knife and fork, and so on. I can’t endorse this course of action, however; it seems to break an important rule of etiquette, that of being overly precious and unnatural.

I’m going to go out on a limb and provide my own advice here: a burger is by nature a casual food. If you wish to garnish it with the lettuce and onion provided, add those items to the burger with your fork, but don’t worry about removing the bun with some complicated fork-and-knife action, and feel free to eat the burger with your hands if it is not unreasonably messy to do so. A burger served open-face or with no bun at all should, of course, be eaten with a knife and fork.

SUPERSTITION: A girl who wishes to know the identity of her true love should take a bunch of onions and name each one after a young man she knows. Gary Onion, Billy Onion, Emmett Onion, etc. She should then put the onions in a safe, dark place. The onion named after her future suitor will be the one that sprouts first. If she only has one onion, she should put it under her pillow and pray to St. Thomas, and in the night she will dream of her true love.

Onions are not only good for love predictions, but they cure dog bite, headache, toothache and fever. If you are going to be beaten with a cane, try to rub an onion over the cane first (or if you can’t do this, rub the part of your body that is to be beaten with the onion). You will not feel any pain, and the cane will break.

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