I love onions and I eat them almost every day. This is a very important part of my culinary heritage from Bosnia. People from Balkans generally think that garlic and onion can improve your health. Therefore, these ingredients are not only the foundation of EVERY dish in the countries of Ex-Yugoslavia, but are used as magic ingredients, a prescription signed by nature in the fight against bacterias. People there drink them as tee, grate them into unction and cover with them painful places on the body. Today, while so called alternative medicine is en vogue, that even the performance-artist Queen Marina Abramovic starts celebrating her garlic-ish roots in her newest documentary The Space in Between, the territory of Ex-Yugoslavia could become a mecca for new age healer and shamans from the Westerns. They would say, life is more “grounded” there: great, nourishing, homemade food (new healers, just like Gods are always hungry!), amazing (only a bit mined) nature, locals are great hosts, full of passion, life there is cheap, life is beautiful.
Years ago, for similar healers, we were sick monsters, who can’t deal with their own past and that is why we killed everything and everyone around us, (while they were watching…). No one gave a fuck about our magical garlics and onions, that were indifferently scrunched with many brand new NATO boots. (For them) We were and still are regressed, drunk, bearded religious freaks, a place for international-intellectual orgies, an exotic folklore, European darkness (like I read recently)…
I don’t eat onions to improve my health, but I do think that they are very healthy. Every time I eat them I remember my grandmother, who’s name should have been Cepula (latin for onion) and not Bosiljka (serbo-croatian for basil). Every day she ate her finely minced onions. We always knew when she is around, because her breath would announce her. We made so much fun about her, about her regular meals, breakfast at 9, lunch at 3:30, dinner at 7. Now I know, that this was her only stability in the chaos she lived in. 2 wars and much more IS a big deal.
I eat onions, because I like their taste. It is a taste of my past, I’m currently more then ever dealing with. It is fresh, but spicy. I makes me cry and I’m grateful for it. I don’t want to give up this taste, although it is very difficult to live with it in a country where Knoblauchfresser (garlic-devourer) is an insult to migrants you hear often on the street. In a city where people are obsessed with clean and pure food that doesn`t leave marks and smells on their body. There are moments, and they are not that rare, when I feel just like already mentioned Marina Abramovic in her performance with an onion from 1996. But sometimes, I make it more delicate. I pickle the onion.
“I am tired from changing planes so often, waiting in the waiting rooms, bus stations,
train stations, airports.
I am tired of waiting for endless passport controls.
Fast shopping in the shopping malls.
I’m tired of more and more career decisions, museum and gallery openings, endless
receptions, standing around with a glass of plain water, pretending that I’m
interested in conversations.
I’m so tired of my migraine attacks, loney hotel rooms, dirty bed sheets, room
services, long distance telephone calls, bad TV Movies.
I’m tired of always falling in love with the wrong man; tired of being ashamed of my
nose being too big, of my ass being too large; ashamed about the war in Yugoslavia.
I want to go away, somewhere so far, that I’m unreachable by telephone or fax.
I want to get old, really old, so that nothing matters anymore.
I want to understand and see clearly what is behind all of this.
I want not to want anymore.” (by M.Abramovic)
Ingredients (makes jar, 500 ml):
300 ml distillate white vine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
4 bay leaves
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 Tsp refined sugar
7 peper corns
3 red onions, thinly sliced
1. In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients except onions and bring to a simmer over low heat. Place onions in a large bowl and carefully pur the brine over the onion. Let cool, the transfer to a clean pint-sized jar; cover and refrigerate (in a sealed jar) for up to 1 month.