Ode to an Onion Tart

October 11th, 2011

Finished Tart


OF tarts there be a thousand kinds,
So versatile the art,
And, as we all have different minds,
Each has his favorite tart;
But those which most delight the rest
Methinks should suit me not:
The onion tart doth please me best,
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

Where but in Deutschland can be found
This boon of which I sing?
Who but a Teuton could compound
This sui generis thing?
None with the German frau can vie
In arts cuisine, I wot,
Whose summum bonum breeds the sigh,
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

You slice the fruit upon the dough,
And season to the taste,
Then in an oven (not too slow)
The viand should be placed;
And when’t is done, upon a plate
You serve it piping hot,
Your nostrils and your eyes dilate,
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

It sweeps upon the sight and smell
In overwhelming tide,
And then the sense of taste as well
Betimes is gratified:
Three noble senses drowned in bliss!
I prithee tell me, what
Is there beside compares with this?
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

For if the fruit be proper young,
And if the crust be good,
How shall they melt upon the tongue
Into a savory flood!
How seek the Mecca down below,
And linger round that spot,
Entailing weeks and months of woe,
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

If Nature gives men appetites
For things that won’t digest,
Why, let them eat whatso delights,
And let her stand the rest;
And though the sin involve the cost
Of Carlsbad, like as not
‘T is better to have loved and lost,
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

Beyond the vast, the billowy tide,
Where my compatriots dwell,
All kinds of victuals have I tried,
All kinds of drinks, as well;
But nothing known to Yankee art
Appears to reach the spot
Like this Teutonic onion tart,
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

So, though I quaff of Carlsbad’s tide
As full as I can hold,
And for complete reform inside
Plank down my hoard of gold,
Remorse shall not consume my heart,
Nor sorrow vex my lot,
For I have eaten onion tart,
—Ach, Gott! mein lieber Gott!

by Eugene Field

Onion Tarts

September 6th, 2011

Last night, I made onion tarts, inspired by a 1911 recipe from Rufus Estes’s Good Things to Eat.

GLAZED ONIONS –Peel the onions and place in a saucepan with a little warmed butter, add sugar and salt to taste, pour over a little stock. Place over a moderate fire and cook slowly till quite tender and the outside brown. Remove and serve on a dish. A little of the liquor, thickened with flour, may be served as a sauce.

Onions Cooking

I chopped up a giant sweet vidalia onion, and tossed it into an heirloom cast-iron skillet, along with a chunk of melted butter, a couple teaspoons of sugar, and a dash of salt. I didn’t have any stock, so I just covered them with a little water.

Onions Browning

Cooking over a “moderate” flame, it took a surprisingly long time for the onions to begin browning. But oh, when they did, what fragrance wafted through our garret! There wasn’t any liquor left over to make into sauce however. Perhaps I didn’t put in enough water/stock? But the onions themselves were definitely coated in a beautiful, sweet glaze.

Cheese in Tart Shell

I made a batch of tart shells to hold the onion filling (and a few extra for raspberry jam tarts) from a modern recipe. At the last minute, I tossed some grated Emmentaler into the bottom of the shell. The hot onions melted the cheese.

Finished Tart

I forgot to take a picture of the finished tart until I’d already taken a bite. They were delicious. And the various bits kept well overnight too — I assembled another tart this evening and heated it in the oven for a few minutes. I’m in love.