Of Onion Jam and Patriarchal Hegemony

Of Onion Jam and Patriarchal Hegemony

◑ What, you may justifiably wonder, does onion jam have to do with the patriarchal hegemony? Nothing, of course. Unless, you count yourself a member of my mad menagerie. Still, if you’re looking for some delicious comfort food that’s out of the ordinary, and willing to pay a paltry remuneration by nodding sympathetically through my maternal musings, Read On!

◑ Like any self-respecting feminist, I yearned for my pragmatic teenage daughter to espouse the cause. More women in STEM! Independence! Equity! So when she won a merit scholarship at one of the Seven Sisters colleges, I exerted my not-inconsiderable persuasive powers to get her to go there. Four years later, she’s back, with a degree in neuroscience but somewhat bruised around the edges. Well, the college website did say heady and nervy, and that’s what we got. After looking up the patriarchal hegemony on Wikipedia, and nodding every time she said, That’s so hetero-normative, I sought a meeting of the minds in the old standby of comfort food.

◑ This being the child who asked for caramelized onions as pizza topping and used words like ramekin and macerate in her vocabulary, I turned to a A French girl “cuisine” for a recipe for onion marmalade (http://goo.gl/jWyAXQ) . The first time we made it, we dutifully converted the metric measures to American. Too bad we didn’t follow them. Since then, we’ve confirmed by innumerable replications (p <0.005) that it always tastes delicious. I served it with a side of penne, baked in a creamy sauce tossed with roasted vegetables and topped with a layer of potatoes. 

Recipe and More pixhttps://madamescientist.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/of-sweet-onion-jam-and-patriarchal-hegemony/

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88 Responses to Of Onion Jam and Patriarchal Hegemony

  1. Rajini Rao says:


    Thanks, you too youis Roland J. Ruttledge 🙂


  2. So, another generation of high achievers in the family line then eh? How long until she gets her own lab plaque? Well done to both of you – to her for achieving, for you for raising, nurturing and encouraging, while also being an achiever yourself :-D


  3. That’s a serious food science up there 🙂

  4. Rajini Rao says:


    Not so fast, Cod Codliness . Right now, she is officially confused and unsure of her prospects. I’ve been told by family and friends to keep my mouth shut until she figures things out. So I wait, and make onion jam 😛


  5. Even if she does nothing further with the degree Rajini Rao, she’s already achieved something by gaining the degree in the first place – and I’m sure whatever she does next, she’ll do it well. Look at the heritage she has behind her!

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    I’ll take comfort in that, Cod Codliness . I’ll say this: some days I feel that being a parent is harder than being a scientist. 


  7. Yeah, I can certainly agree with that Rajini Rao – you want to interfere and point them just a bit this way or that way, but you really have to let them completely ignore you and go their own way sometimes. Ah well, I have two grandchildren now to work on, and everyone knows being a grandparent is even better because you get the fun without the responsibility 😀 


  8. Rajini Rao it is…!


  9. Rajini Rao only some days? 😉

  10. Rajini Rao says:


    Hudson Ansley , kids are tricky that way. They lull you into a false sense of complacency, then wham 😀

  11. Jesse H says:


    Boy do I know that feeling Rajini. Got my daughter doing the pre req’s for now. At least your daughter has a degree. Oh well. We all go through it.

  12. Rajini Rao says:


    Jesse H I need to hear this, so glad I posted 🙂

  13. Amber Peall says:


    Mmmmm… I do love caramelised onions…

  14. Rajini Rao says:


    A perfect food, Amber Petchey . The wine added wonderful flavor to them. 

  15. Amber Peall says:


    I can well imagine. I like the tiniest bit of mustard in the background.

  16. Jesse H says:


    It’s a great post Rajini. Now days the job market is ever changing. So far my daughter wants to be a physical therapist. At least she is heading in a good direction.

  17. Rajini Rao says:


    Amber Petchey , I’ll have to try that!


    Jesse H , my very best to your daughter! 

  18. Jesse H says:


    Thank you Rajini. I think it will all work out. I hope the best for your daughter as well.

  19. Chad Haney says:


    Looks delicious and great musing to go with the recipe. I’m wondering if a strong cheese would complement the bread and onion marmalade. My wife likes onions and makes a good orange marmalade. Maybe onion marmalade is next.

  20. Rajini Rao says:


    Chad Haney , thanks. A tart, strong cheese would go well with the sweetness of the onion jam. I’ve not experimented making my own orange marmalade, but I love it- especially with a hint of bitterness. 


  21. Making a small jar of marmalade seems like a worthy fate for a huge sack of onions. I’ll get on that tonight.


    Loved the whimsy of the post BTW.

  22. Chad Haney says:


    That settles it then. I’ll be sure to send you a jar Rajini Rao.

  23. Rajini Rao says:


    Kevin Marshall they shrink down wonderfully, hope you like it. 


    Poking fun at myself generally makes me feel better – in this case, I got more than I bargained 🙂 

  24. Rajini Rao says:


    Chad Haney , aww! Just send me the recipe and a photo of it. 

  25. J Stasko says:


    Does it taste any different using American measures, than SI?

  26. Rajini Rao says:


    J Stasko after converting, the cup measures were all weird (80g of sugar is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup), so we just guesstimated anyway 🙂

  27. Bob Calder says:


    Rajini Rao all we can do is love them. That goes for onions and children I suppose.

  28. Rajini Rao says:


    Bob Calder , I guess they can both be quite addictively sweet depending how well you cook them 🙂

  29. Chad Haney says:


    Rajini Rao we bought a scale because a few recipes were ruined by not following the metric based recipe.

  30. Rajini Rao says:


    I can see how that would be particularly important for baking, Chad Haney . Do you recall where you bought yours from?

  31. Chad Haney says:


    We found a digital scale at Costco.


  32. Food looks great as always, Rajini. I approve of the use of these terms:  “patriarchal hegemony” and “That’s so hetero-normative.” 

  33. Rajini Rao says:


    Thanks, Chad Haney . I’ll look for it there.

  34. Rajini Rao says:


    Zuleyka Zevallos , I was thinking you might get a laugh out of that. My daughter would like (and approve) of you 🙂

  35. Rajini Rao says:


    Shaker Cherukuri some statistical shenanigans were involved. Now if only the experiments in my lab were that cooperative….


  36. Beautiful photos Rajini Rao! I suspect that would go really well with oatcakes too (http://www.nairns-oatcakes.com/our-oaty-food). If you can’t find any there I’ll try to get some for you the next time we meet!

  37. Rajini Rao says:


    Those look interesting, Buddhini Samarasinghe . I’ve not tried them. BTW, we are enjoying the tea you (and your mom) brought us! 


  38. Awesome, she will be pleased to hear that! It’s cool how many G+ peeps are enjoying Ceylon tea thanks to her visits (I think she took some for Chad Haney too?). Even more ironic that I don’t drink tea 😛

  39. Rajini Rao says:


    No coffee or tea, sigh. How do you get your energy Buddhini Samarasinghe ? Wait till you get to be my age 😉

  40. Chad Haney says:


    I finished the tea from Siromi Samarasinghe some time ago. I also finished the tea from Yoon-Mi Kim. I guess I need to make more friends on G+.


  41. Rajini Rao say congrats to your daughter! She has got a degree now.


    You have done such a wonderful job. Now it is her life. But she is back home.


    Enjoy her company before you again let her go to explore her own world. I just found a glimpse of how hard it must be to do what I just said.


    My elder will finish her freshman soon. I have still three more years to go.


    When I left her dorm to go to airport to return after visiting her for a day, I remembered that my younger will go too in few months. Then, I thought, my home will be different. It will be just empty. Just two of us.


    It hit me hard this time while in the plane. Yah, cried a little.


    I am not sure if you know some Marathi or you know someone who can translate it but here is a poem by a young but famous poet on how we fathers think-


    दमलेल्या बाबाची कहानी..


    So, love them while you can!


  42. Rajini Rao Chad Haney More Ceylon tea on my next visit to the US! I’m so happy that you both enjoyed it.


  43.   Rajini Rao  Congratulations to Anjana! I’m sure she will decide on a career path that suits her, but needs time.


    I’m definitely going to try the onion jam. You make such delicious food Rajini!

  44. Chad Haney says:


    I’ll trade you green tea Pocky for Ceylon tea, Siromi Samarasinghe.

  45. Rajini Rao says:


    mandar khadilkar , thank you for sharing that sweet story. The 4 years in college went fast..those endless trips driving her there and back! Her college experience was intense, had a big impact on her, and it’s too early to say how she deals with things moving on (she has a job for now). My younger (boy) is in the 10th grade- a lovable, overconfident scamp. 


    I’ll try find a translator (I’m fluent in Hindi, but spoken Marathi goes by too fast for me to pick up an similarities).

  46. Rajini Rao says:


    Siromi Samarasinghe , thank you! I will pass on your good wishes to Anjana. Not only the tea, but we are enjoying the spices too 🙂


  47. Chad Haney Haha! Never tried Pocky. Should be good since you recommend! Do you prefer green tea to black tea?

  48. Chad Haney says:


    Siromi Samarasinghe I prefer black tea and oolong tea. I’m not a fan of green tea. It’s too grassy. Green tea Pocky and green tea ice cream is another story. Those are delicious.


  49. You are far and away far and away from any patriarchal mussing I could muster. Good on ya!

  50. Rajini Rao says:


    Haha, thanks John Stroncheck .


    Peter Lindelauf it’s also been called marmalade. It’s more like a spread. 


  51. Something tangy and spicy?! I will have it anytime.

  52. Mary T says:


    That looks really delicious Rajini Rao ~ I wouldn’t have thought of onion jam, but it sounds great, paired with the cheese.


    Congratulations for raising such a smart, accomplished daughter!

  53. nizar M H says:


    you have  food company

  54. dora chiabov says:


    Brava! Grazie! Here two women who do not cry not even peeling onions.

  55. Adit Morey says:


    The onion jam looks very delicious….it is the first time that I have heard of a jam made using onions. The concept is indeed very quirky.


    Speaking of onion jam, there are white onions from a particular part of India ( my dad knows it, I’ll ask him and tell later) which have a somewhat sweet flavour and are different than regular onions.

  56. NEY MELLO says:


    Pardon? Vous avez bien dit…Onion Jam!? .Euh…Vive La Revolution!!!    😀 😀

  57. Amber Peall says:


    Oatcakes and onion jam = so much win. Trust Buddhini Samarasinghe , Rajini Rao , it sounds weird, but the textures and flavours are hugely complimentary.

  58. Adit Morey says:


    I asked my dad about the provenance of the small onions….they are grown in Alibaug – a place in the coastal region in the state of Maharashtra.

  59. Rajini Rao says:


    Adit Morey thanks! They sound delicious. I must look for them the next time I visit India.

  60. rare avis says:


    That Seven Sisters wouldn’t be Smith, would it? Northampton has some great restaurants, and I used to chef/own one, on Center st. in NoHo- It’s a great area!!! Congrats- all the Seven Sisters are fantastic….Onion Marmalade is a GREAT recipe to play with! Since she’s mastered the basic versions, has she played around with the red wine aspect? … add a little balsamic syrup or molasses, or even tamarind paste. Try mixing in a whole shallot or two. Do you like roasted beets? Red Onion Marmalade lends itself very well to the addition of roasted off root vegetables- like beet, parsnip, salsify… ( I love golden beets, too- but best to use white  vidalia onions and white wine for the marmalade when mixing, the dark version looks muddy with the bright orange beets) For a cold night’s dinner, slice some day old bread and melt gruyere over it, then arrange the warm marmalade and gruyere ‘croutons’ in a bowl, and cover with miso broth… add a few leek frizzles to garnish, and voila, a vegetarian ‘french onion’ soup! Have fun… Ah, to be discovering the joys of cooking at a tender age…


  61. Adit Morey you are very right. We used to buy a whole “maal” (string) of those white onions whenever someone from Alibaag would visit us.


    At that time, there were no shops carrying everything from everywhere as it is today.


    One more thing on onions, I remember that we used to eat raw onions of small size not by chopping them but specifically by crushing them by hand.


    They somehow are more flavorful that way. Try it! Just smash small onion by base of your palm few times.


    Eat with Bhakari…..green chili and salt.

  62. Rajini Rao says:


    rare avis , Smith College, yes! I love NoHo, the food was always the highlight of our visits. Would she know your restaurant/is it still there?


    Smith is terrific but intense. She did well with a very rigorous and challenging course load (thanks to her insane mom!) and is being too hard on herself, I think. Your variations sound terrific- I’ll be sure to pass them along. She recently discovered the joys of roasting beets. In fact, you’ve reminded me that she could not find miso at her local grocery store and I promised to take her to my favorite H-Mart Korean superstore soon. Many thanks for the suggestions! 

  63. Rajini Rao says:


    mandar khadilkar , it’s still an hour or so from lunch and your comment has me so hungry! I love mild, raw onions. A little drizzle of lemon juice on mine, please 🙂


  64. Oh yes! How did I forget lemon? Time for me to take some late breakfast.

  65. rare avis says:


    Rajini Rao


     Yay Noho! She can definitely source Miso in Noho- there’s a specialty shop in town called Provisions, and a health food store in the bottom of Thorne’s Marketplace. Both are near the campus. They’ll have a good selection, too. I sold my business, but the building is still there, and I think it still has my Awning- a very Parisian-left bank red, white, and black Awning Stripe… near a place I’ll bet she goes for coffee and baked goods- Woodstar Cafe. The owner, Rebecca, is a friend… It’s definitely a great area to go to college! I was supposed to be a Smithie- but after Emma Willard, I couldn’t imagine four more years of all girls- so I went to Hampshire, and was able to take courses at Smith and Amherst… Several of my waitstaff went to Smith and I knew everyone from the erstwhile President to the head of catering- it IS very rigorous. VERY. Good for her… a GREAT education! Have you visited the Smith Greenhouses yet? I think their Bulb Show is about to bloom- it’s fabulous! Please let me know if there’s anything at all I can do- if she needs local contacts or suggestions on where to source things, I’m still in touch and have family there, and I’d be thrilled to be of help… 😉 O- and there’s a great Asian Store on rt 9, just over the bridge, the free bus goes to it. I did read that there was a fire last year, but I’ll bet they’re back up & running. I sourced a LOT of stuff there, and the owner goes to china town so he can also pick up anything you need for custom orders. They have great stuff- Whole fresh Tamarind Pods, Banaba Leaves, Kaffir lime leaves.. and Miso. There’s a Korean restaurant a bit further down on Rt. 9, and they have a little retail store, too- good kim chee.

  66. Rajini Rao says:


    rare avis , she has just graduated (May 2013) and after a brief stint in Easthaven, moved back to Baltimore where she has a job. But I’ll definitely share your comments with her. I know she took a course in Hampshire and one in UMass too, I think. That’s part of the fun of the 5-college area! 


    I loved Smith’s arboretum and greenhouse. I always wandered through them (unless it was one of those wintry breaks). We’ll have to go back and visit some day! 

  67. rare avis says:


    Lol… OK… Good for her! Baltimore is a fun place for young people…. My favorite spot is the Visionary Art Museum, and I’ve not been- but have heard first hand from a person I trust: Danelia Pasta & Pastries is an up and coming great deli/restaurant, with very fair prices and unbeatably yummy food. Daniela Pasta & Pastries


    900 W 36th St


    Baltimore, MD 21211 Hampden


    It was very nice to revisit NoHo in my mind.. Now, back to the grind..

  68. Rajini Rao says:


    rare avis , she lives in Hampden now (a fun spot for young people), so I’ll ask her about Daniela’s and give you a review (a delicious assignment). Visionary Art Museum is great..we visit regularly, and my department has rented their space for special events. Cheers! 


  69. I am not completely shocked with the  dialog coming from a northeastern American University, especially one of the seven sisters schools. 


    I was wondering is you introduces her to Ahleah Gavin, I think she would have gotten along famously with her. Plus she is in neuroscience, so she might be a good mentor that’s not her mother. (Ahleah is a non-social network friend, though I do not get to talk to her often with her being up in Baltimore.) 


    Also in terms of being confused about ones prospects it is pretty normal. I went into school intent on doing science policy, did it for five years of my career, then turned around became a systems analyst doing technology work. Life can take you on strange paths, and the reality is pursuing a Ph.D. or any graduate degree is not always the best path unless you are absolutely certain that is what you want to do. Taking time to evaluate ones academic options is always recommended. 


  70. I am hoping those bruises are healing well Rajini Rao I’ve come back to this post a second time deciding whether or not I one could make it and two if we would like it. I’m not sure about my skills on #1, but yes I would enjoy. So I sit stirring up the skills to serve…..

  71. Rajini Rao says:


    Cheryl Ann MacDonald , good to hear from you. Do let me know if you like it. It’s not pungent at all..sweet and melting. I’ll have to start shipping some to my G+ friends 🙂


  72. I will  let you know Rajini Rao and thanks for a very different food idea.

  73. NEY MELLO says:


    Yes, bien sur!!!..we made reservations at  Chez Rajini, this new trend setting Balt. Restaurant:, purported to feature: “Grande cuisine down to the cellular level”

  74. Rajini Rao says:


    Haha, Merci and bon appetit NEY MELLO !

  75. Nick James says:


    Rajini Rao Don’t you just love it when your own children patronise you?  In your own subjects!  I have an 18 YO boy who is too bright – but that is not something to complain about.


    Gorgeous food!


  76. I’m a bit late with my comment, wow that looks amazing!

  77. E.E. Giorgi says:


    oooh, that looks so delicious! thanks so much for sharing the recipe. Part of me wants to know more about your daughter’s edge bruises — I hope the caramelized onions healed her inside-out. 🙂

  78. NEY MELLO says:


    Rajini Rao  You are still getting comments 10 years after you posted this? Open that Restaurant!!!  😀 😀

  79. Rajini Rao says:


    NEY MELLO Google+ has only been around about 3 years? Is there some time capsule that I missed boarding? 🙂 🙂

  80. NEY MELLO says:


    Yes…I am from the future, with a prescient viewpoint  😀 😀 and the future has you at the head of a national chain of genetically beneficial restaurants!…The future is tasty…


  81. I love chutney, also has among its ingredients to the “onion”. 


    A blend of prepared vegetables in vinegar and brown sugar as a heavy syrup, is exquisite! This … jam on bread is tempting!

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