A food that's uniquely Georgian: the Vidalia onion
It's the official vegetable of the State of Georgia
When one thinks of a favorite vegetable, I don't think many people think of onions. I would say people would be more inclined to name a vegetable they could pick up and take a bite out of – something like corn, green beans or carrots (eewwww! I hate carrots). But in the south eastern region of the United States, in the state of Georgia, an onion is grown that you can pretty much pick up and take a raw bite out of: the Vidalia onion.
The Vidalia onion's origins stretch back into the early 1930s: a time when the United States was facing a financial catastrophe in the Great Depression. Farmers in Georgia were looking for a new cash crop to plant – and onions started to be grown after a farmer discovered his onion crop didn't have the typical distinctive "bite" we usually associate with onions.
Instead, the onions had a milder, sweeter taste. The unique flavor of these onions was attributed to Georgia's climate and the soil conditions in the area. As word spread of the unique and unusual Georgia onion, people began to seek them out, with the state eventually establishing a farmers market in the small Georgia cross-roads town of Vidalia.
Vidalia saw growth as a tourist destination, and the popularity of the onion grew. People associated the onion with the town of Vidalia, referring to them as Vidalia onions.
Not just any onion
Through the decades, as their popularity slowly grew, so did the amount of Vidalia onions harvested every year. In the late 1970s, a yearly Vidalia Onion Festival started, and in 1986 the Georgia State Legislature passed the Vidalia Onion Act – trademarking the name and defining the 20 county regions where Vidalia onions are harvested.
An official Vidalia Onion Committee was established in 1989, and the Vidalia onion received federal recognition from the United States Department of Agriculture. Now, Vidalia onions are harvested every spring and distributed across the 50 states, and also into Canada.
The Vadalia Onion Committee – they make a Vidalia onion *officially* a Vidalia onion
Grilled Vidalia onion recipe
To celebrate a beautiful spring down here in Georgia, I decided to make a grilled Vidalia onion – it's sooooooooooo good. Cooking the Vidalia onion really softens the bite of the onion and brings out its sweetness.
The beef bouillon cube dropped into the top of the onion imparts a salty beefiness to the onion. You'll find yourself amazed that you're eating an onion as a side dish or appetizer. It's really good sliced up and served on crackers with small pieces of deli sliced Swiss cheese.
Grilled Vidalia onion