New onion museum peels back layers of history in Georgia

When the folks in the US state of Georgia decided to build a shrine to honor one of their most beloved local food products, the museum consultant they hired balked in disbelief.

"Really, an onion museum?" recalls Wendy Brannen, describing the consultant's reaction.

But five years after first conceiving the idea, museum chairperson Brannen opened the doors to the Vidalia Onion Museum last Friday in Vidalia, GA, a 1,300-square foot (121-square meter) complex that traces its history - an Allium vegetable so sweet it can be eaten like an apple.

The exhibit tells the story of the humble onion, from its roots as an accidental crop grown in the 1930s, to its featured appearance on TV shows like Jeopardy and CSI Miami, where the unique vegetable played a supporting role in solving one of the murder mysteries.

Their "On the Menu" exhibit also features celebrity chefs and fans like Julia Child, Bobby Flay and the Clintons who pay homage to the savory version of the Georgian peach.

The Vidalia is uniquely sweet because of the regular rainfall the area receives, mild winters, and the low-sulfur soils that keep the bulbs from developing a pungent taste. They also cause fewer tears.

The Vidalia Onion Committee features recipe ideas on their site vidaliaonion.org, that include caramelized Vidalia onion dip, double cheese Vidalia onion pie, baked stuffed onions, and even Vidalia onion chocolate chip cookies.

Other sweet onions grown in the US include Walla Walla Sweets, from Washington, and the Maui Sweets from Hawaii.

According to the US National Onion Association, Libya boasts the highest consumption of onions at 67 pounds (30 kg) per capita a year.

Georgia's not the first place to pay homage to the onion. Taiwan also boasts a Spring Onion Museum where cartoon-faced onion stalks greet visitors at the entrance.

For more info, visit http://www.vidaliaonion.org/about_us/vidalia_onion_museum .

 

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