A pop sounded as I hacked through the top of the onion and it fell away, revealing the moist rings below. Over and again I sliced down and slid the blade across the root, paring thin slivers and hearty chunks ready for the pot.
To one side, hot oil hissed and spat in eager anticipation. Almost as soon as each slice hit the chopping board, I scooped it up and dashed it into the pan. Before long there was a thick layer of thin onion rings turning first a pale, ghostly white then a deep golden caramel.
I clapped the flat of the blade down on top of one clove of garlic, then three more. Each burst and peeled away from its shell. They too for the pot, their sweet aroma rising with the earthy tang of the onion.
Beef stock, warm and homely, splashed down and bathed the sweating roots in a hot marinate. But something was missing. Salt gathered the three ingredients together and herbs picked each out anew. Something still lacked as I carefully sipped the hot liquid.
“Do I dare?” I thought.
As soon as the bright, garish yellow mustard left my spoon I regretted what I had done. Its sharpness and bite would drown out every other flavour in the pot. Wincing, I took another sip.
It was a tender steak, cooked to perfection with a side of fried onions. Here and there were dashes of mustard, gone too soon to be more than a fleeting savour. A hearty meal resting in the bowl of a wooden spoon.
I just made onion soup! Flavour copyright J S Malpas, all tastes reserved.