The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jun 6, 2011

Tita in Tears

Onions make one weep, they do. Little green chillies make one's fingers burn, and nose water, and skin sweat. All this happens when one chops them. Or munches on them. For great-aunt Tita, tears, floods of tears over onions began early in life. So says Laura Esquivel in her Like Water For Chocolate.
Take care to chop the onion fine. To keep from crying when you chop it (which is so annoying!), I suggest you place a little bit on your head. The trouble with crying over an onion is that once the chopping gets you started and the tears begin to well up, the next thing you know you just can't stop. I don't know if that's ever happened to you, but I have to confess it's happened to me, many times. Mama used to say it was because I was especially sensitive to onions, like my great-aunt, Tita.
Tita was so sensitive to onions, any time they were being chopped, they say she would just cry and cry; when she was still in my great-grandmother's belly, her sobs were so loud that even Nacha, the cook, who was half-deaf, could hear them easily. Once her wailing got so violent that it brought on an early labor. And before my great-grandmother could let out a word or even a whimper, Tita made an entrance into the world, prematurely, right there on the kitchen table, amid the smells of simmering noodles soup, thyme, bay leaves, and cilantro, steamed milk, garlic, and, of course, onions. Tita had no need for the usual slap on the bottom, because she was already crying as she emerged; maybe that was because she knew then that it would be her lot in life to be denied marriage. The way Nacha told it, Tita was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor.


Post a Comment