Thursday, February 9, 2012

Aunt Tzila's fried onions

This is a story that landed in my inbox, and I liked it so much that I decided to translate it for you. I know you'll love it as much as I did.

A quick glance at the clock tell me it's already 20:30. A quick calculation tells me it means I have been running between the kitchen and my little angels for the past half hour. 

Mommy! Tuck me in!

Mommy! Water, please! If we are running out of water in Israel, it's because of all the children who beg for water a second after their head touches the pillow.

Mommy, my teddy bear dropped to the floor!

Mommy, he isn't letting me sleep!


I'm slightly breathless from all the running.

Two minutes of silence tell me the sleep routine is complete.

My stomach reminds me I skipped lunch today, and no dinner is waiting for my dear husband.

I look around, trying to think of something quick, tasty and healthy to cook.

I clear the counters, filling the dirty pots with water and placing them elegantly on the stove, and pile the dishes in the sink. I sweep, mop and tidy up.

Suddenly I remember the voice of dear Aunt Tzila: if you have no time to cook and your husband is about to arrive, chop an onion and fry it, its smell will make anything appetizing. She laughed and added: it doesn't matter even if all you do later is pour some eggs over the onion, the smell will do its job.

I, a fresh young bride, looked at her then with wondering eyes. Me? Greet my husband with fried onion? My husband will have a three-course gourmet meal every night!

Now I know what she was talking about. I smile to myself, inwardly thanking Aunt Tzila. I chop the onion swiftly.

The smell fills the air as I toss stripes of bell pepper into the pan, add a few chunks of hard cheese I found in the refrigerator, and pour eggs over it all. 

I hear the car coming to a stop in the driveway and the familiar footsteps coming upstairs, and cut up salad as fast as I can.

"Mmm, smells delightful. What's for dinner?"

That's my hungry man.

He comes into the kitchen, sniffing and making a move to look into the pots. No! It's not there! I say sharply before he looks. Uh... leave the pots.

So what did you make?

In a stroke of brilliance, I respond: I made Mediterranean omelet with grilled peppers and cheese, and it's served with chef's salad.

Mmm, this sounds delicious, he says appreciatively.

After he has Swiss hot chocolate for dessert (hot milk with some melted chocolate) he asks: "do you need me to do anything?"

"Yes," I say simply, "some dishes."

To his astonishment, I transfer four large pots, full of murky water, from the stove to the sink, which threatens to collapse.

To my astonishment, he doesn't run away or fall asleep on the spot, but rolls up his sleeves and says, "you deserve this after all you did for me tonight."

...I stifled a smile and went out, garbage bag in hand.

On my way to the trash can, I thought that much of our life consists of marketing: how we present things is how they are perceived by others.


Rose said...

Aunt Tzila knew what she was talking about.

Laura :) said...

Love it!

Anonymous said...

I have to say, this sounds extremely deceitful and insulting. Why would you lead your husband to believe you spent hours cooking a gourmet meal when you just threw some eggs and peppers in a frying pan?

I think this is what I despise the most about women: we decide our men are stupid and easy to deceive, we deceive them and then are devastated when they deceive us about finances, affairs, anything.

This story is disgusting.


Lady Anne said...

I'll have to remember that little trick! Mediterranean omelet, huh? Love it!

Rose is right - Aunt Tzila really knew her onions.

Linda said...

And the importance of a gracious spirit.

Being Refined said...

My mother shared the same advice with me. :) Just start cooking an onion while you figure out the rest of dinner. As he comes home the house will smell delicious and inviting.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

I LOVE IT! SOO true! About the onion working it's 'smell-good' magic, and selling your product!! :-D Big smiles, Anna! Haha!

Mrs. Parunak said...

That's delightful! Thank you for translating it!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Miriam, I think you got the message of this story all wrong. The way I see it, she had two options: either lamely stare at the floor and mumble about not having time to cook a proper dinner, or serve a simple meal with a winning gesture. I know I would probably choose what she chose.

Anonymous said...

Anna, no matter how you look at it, she lied. Why not tell the truth? "It was a rough day so I threw an omelet together, I hope you like it." Instead, she has the poor man convinced he should do the dishes because "you deserve this after all you did for me tonight."

Please, God, protect my sons from this kind of wife.


Anonymous said...

I've also heard something like this before. If it's dinner time and you've been busy with the kids all day, instead of complaining to your husband as soon as he walkes in the door that the kids kept you from doing anything, just start frying an onion and maybe some garlic. He'll come home to a good smell. You can then ask him to watch the kids for 20 minutes or so while you finish up. It's a much nicer way to start the evening.

Carmen said...

I think this kind of trick only works if your husband is fairly clueless about how long it takes to make an omelet with random stuff in it :o) It sounds remarkably like something my grandma would have said to my grandpa.

My husband however would see straight through it, and then wonder in amusement why I am using such a fancy name for something that took 10 minutes to prepare.

He would do the dishes too, if I was tired and I asked him to, but he wouldn't like it if I tried to charm him into it. It would be kind of artificial in our case.

That being said, there are probably more husbands out there who resemble my grandpa and this lady's husband, and who would feel quite neglected and unloved if their wives did not use such innocent marketing strategies.


LouLou said...

I don't see it as deceitful. My husband thinks ANY time I spend in the kitchen is a blessing. Saying something like, "I hope you like it" or "it was a rough day" puts him on the defensive. He will automatically think he won't like it, and he'll be stressed that you had a bad day and won't talk about his troubles. To me, this post came across as advice from a funny perspective. It said that you don't have to be perfect, just put one step in front of the other, and present it as your best work, because it is the best work you can do at that time. Also, it means ask sweetly for help when you need it. :)

Leah Brand-Burks said...

I loved it! I hope we can all step back and not take ourselves so seriously all the time. The average husband would probably not be at all offended, and find the whole thing amusing. I know mine would!

Gothelittle Rose said...

It's definitely not a lie. If anything, it's simply a presentation. Did you guys know that in Japanese culture, food presentation is just as important as food quality?

Presentation, though it is something that both sexes can learn, is often the purview of the woman just because it comes so naturally to her. I love this phrase: "Bread and water can so easily become toast and tea." Once you've made toast and tea, are you lying if you don't call it bread and water?

Now if she said that it was Three-Hour-Steak-Dinner when it was just an onion omelet over salad, that would be one thing. But she didn't. She told it just as it is... and one of the forgotten skills of womanhood is how to use language and presentation to turn something plain into something that delights the hearts of all who partake.

I applaud Aunt Tzila for reminding us!

AwaydownSouth said...

There is no way the menfolk in my family could be "fooled" by that, but they might think it funny.

Lena said...

I love fried onion, I think today we will have some for dinner, with eggs. :) Your husband is so sweet to wash all the dishes. Its something my husband will do as well, if I ask him. Thank you for the story.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the story, Anna! I'm sorry that some of your readers were unable to benefit from it! Far from being some type of deceitful trick, I see this story as representing the loving efforts of the wife to give her husband the best homecoming possible under the circumstances. It is a gracious gift we give to others when we give them something that delights their hearts, to the extent that we are able. Why settle for hum-drum when you can make it into something special?!
Thanks again,

Melissa said...

I love the story. I am from America and my first thought was "Women and men are the same in all cultures!"

I am sorry for the biting tongue of Miriam, I think it is most certainly just a matter of perception, I know most men have a clue that eggs take less than 10 minutes to prepare, they just appreciate the effort of actually having a meal on the table when home from work. (Regardless of the name, we often have breakfast for dinner).