Any Georgian worth his salted peanuts knows that the Merry Month of May means only one thing: the Vidalias are here. Last season’s leftovers are yesterday’s news. Imports? Seriously? May is when the too-often ignored great state of Georgia moves front and center to become Old Glory’s Star of the Month.
When those sweet, edible, multi-layered bulbs make it to our house, it gets crazy. Life as we know it shuts down so that my Yankee husband, Babe, can pay homage to a forty-pound box of Vidalias stinking up my otherwise sweet-smelling pantry.
As soon as the truck from Vidalia rolls into town, Babe rushes to greet it. He is the picture of a proud Pennsylvania-Yankee-turned-Georgian. It’s as if his sole purpose in life is to be the first person on St. Simons Island to bite into that blessed little onion that puts Georgia on everybody’s mind. While the produce truck unloads, Babe stands at attention looking more Southern than Robert E. Lee.
Once he gets the onions back home, he can hardly wait to crunch into his first Vidalia of the year. For Babe, that moment comes as close to a religious conversion as a man can have. He makes himself a white bread sandwich stacked with thick slices of Vidalias and slathered with Dukes Mayo. (I keep his cardiologist’s number on speed dial.) When he takes that first bite, he makes noises more appropriately heard in the X-rated section at Blockbusters.
“You know, you could just tell me how it tastes, Babe,” I say, “with words. Those sounds of yours are making me blush.”
He closes his eyes and slowly moves his head from side to side. I’ve learned to pay close attention so I don’t miss the only bodily movement he makes before drifting off to Zen City.
I love to cook, but during that first week of May when Babe goes certifiably Vidalia crazy, he commandeers my kitchen claiming Squatter’s Rights. I’m almost afraid to go in there. The other day while he and an onion sandwich were tripping down the yellow brick road, I opened the pantry door hoping to find a jar of peanut butter. What I found instead gave me the vapors.
“Babe, you didn’t just fall off the cliff, you catapulted into Onion Overkill Canyon. We won’t live long enough to eat six varieties of Vidalia Onion catsup, twelve bottles of Vidalia salad dressing, Vidalia pickles in every shade and hue of the color spectrum. Your onion obsession is starting to scare me.” Thoughts of intervention nagged at my brain.
“You need help, Babe. It’s time to bite the bullet instead of the onion.”
“No,” he said and took another bite of his obscene sandwich.
“You need the patch,” I told him. “The Vidalia Onion Patch.”
His eyelids flickered and he turned to meet my gaze. He appeared to have returned from Oz and seemed to be cognizant of his surroundings. Still grasping an obscenely thick onion sandwich in his hands, he inclined his head toward me.
When finally he opened his mouth, three days of stored onion breath smacked my kisser like thrust from a Stealth Bomber. I staggered backwards. That X-rated onion breath of his should have come with a warning label.
“Babe, that Vidalia,” I said while backing away from his toxic breath, “has been buried in Aunt Piddy Pat’s root cellar since Sherman lit up Atlanta on July 22, 1864.”
He put an unconcerned look on his face, gave me a mock salute and then crunched down on another bite as though he was eating an apple. He grinned with his mouth crammed full.
Before I could slip out of the room, he said, “I’ve got one lil’ ol’ thang to say ‘bout that, Miz Scarlett.” (His pretend Southern accent could have put Paula Deen to shame.)
“Well, Fiddily-dee, Mr. Rhett. Do tell.”
“Vidalia Breath just happens to be the South’s best-kept secret weapon. It guarantees that those Yankee carpetbaggers won’t be coming back down here. So hang on to yo’ Confederate dollars, my ageless Southern Belle, ‘cause if they try stealing our Vidalias to take north of the good ol’ Mason-Dixon, you can be sure of one thing.
I yawned. “And that would be?”
His grin got wider. “The South will surely rise again, Sugah.”
Babe’s Vidalia Onion Dip
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cups Dukes Mayonnaise
1 8 oz bag shredded Italian cheese blend
2 Tbsp crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 375F.
Mix all ingredients in bowl and then transfer mixture to 8×8 casserole dish.
Bake 30 minutes until golden brown.
Serve immediately with French bread and you’ll put some South in your mouth.
Copyright 2013 Cappy Hall Rearick