You might just cry if you don’t get to try today’s food holiday. June 22 is National Onion Ring Day!
It’s also National Chocolate Eclair Day, but I’ve whined about desserts enough this month for you to realize why, when given the opportunity, we are choosing savory over sweet. No offense to chocolate eclairs, of course. Normally I love ’em.
If foods were like The Brady Bunch, onion rings would be Jan and french fries would be Marcia. Meaning, they tend to play second fiddle and are frequently overlooked, but personally I love onion rings and – if given a choice – usually pick them over fries. While their exact origin is unknown, a once-thriving restaurant chain from Texas called Pig Stand claims to have invented onion rings in the first half of the 20th century (along with Texas toast and chicken fried steak). The first official recipe – calling for onions dipped in milk, dredged in flour, and deep fried – appeared in a Crisco ad in The New York Times Magazine in 1933. A&W Restaurants added onion rings to their menu in the 1960s, a move that is credited with broadening their reach and widening their popularity.
I wish this food holiday was about a week and a half later. Every July, our local Burgerville chain begins serving seasonal Walla Walla onion rings. Walla Walla onions are the best – they are large and incredibly sweet, so much so that they say you can eat one straight up, like an apple. (I tried taking a bite once and, let’s just say, while they are sweet and juicy, no onion should ever be eaten like an apple. End of story). Sadly, this holiday falls just a little too early to take advantage of Burgerville’s onion rings. But, Walla Walla onions are available now, so Tara had the bright idea that we have another friendly little competition to see who could fry up the best onion rings. She wanted to make up for her “devastating loss” in the cheese souffle challenge, and I was looking forward to pulling ahead 2-1 overall in challenges, so it was Game On!
We both chose beer batter recipes. Tara’s included a buttermilk soak, while mine was seasoned with a mixture of garlic powder, parsley flakes, and oregano. I did mine in the deep fryer, and she used a frying pan. It was interesting how the consistency between both differed. As for taste, they were both very good. Hers were a little on the salty side, while mine could have used a bit more. Go figure. This was a very tough decision and could have gone either way. In the end, we asked the opinion of a neutral third party who did not know who made which onion rings: my teenaged son. He agreed that they were both good, but gave the slight edge to Tara. In the end, I agreed with him: hers were a little crispier and just a bit more flavorful. Congrats, Tara!