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The heart of the onion

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The humble onion has a fascinating history, cultural background and deep culinary impact.

In "The Core of an Onion," Mark Kurlansky takes us on a surprising and delightful journey into the world of the ubiquitous yet often underappreciated onion. He peels back its layers, revealing not just its culinary uses but also its fascinating history, cultural significance, and scientific properties.

Kurlansky's writing is engaging and witty, weaving together historical anecdotes, scientific explanations, and mouthwatering recipes. He effortlessly transports us to ancient Egypt, where onions played a vital role in religious rituals, and then whisks us away to modern kitchens, where they add depth and complexity to countless dishes.

The book is a testament to the onion's transformative power. It is more than just a flavoring; it is a symbol of resilience, adaptation, and universality. Throughout history, it has been a source of sustenance, a cultural icon, and even a tool for communication.

With its captivating blend of history, science, and culinary delights, "The Core of an Onion" invites us to see the world through a new lens. It reminds us that even the most ordinary things can hold a wealth of hidden stories and unexpected significance.


Mark Kurlansky is the author of “The Core of an Onion: Peeling the Rarest Common Food – Featuring More Than 100 Historical Recipes.” He is an American journalist and author who has written a number of books of fiction and nonfiction. His 1997 book, “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World,” was an international bestseller and was translated into more than fifteen languages.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org.

This interview was recorded on Thursday, December 7, 2023.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi