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Onions, Culinary uses and history

Onions are one of the most popular basic flavourings of British cookery, the bulb holding an acrid volatile oil with a strong flavour. They have been used since Roman times, perhaps before, but really came into their own when 'braising techniques' were developed in the 15th century. A beef stew would have been flavoured with onions, cloves, mace and currants suspended in a cauldron over a low fire.

As their need grew, supply couldn't keep up with demand, and both onions and onion seeds had to be imported from the Netherlands and Spain.

Strangely enough, in these early times, both onions and garlic were abhorred on The Indian Sub-Continent - the strong scented bulbs were forbidden in many places; anyone wanting to eat them had to go out of town to do so!

Nowadays, only the mildest of savoury dishes exist without some onion flavouring

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