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Buy my onions! I am from France!

onionsI saw a real, live Frenchman! And I buyed onions from him!

For almost two hundred years, farmers from Brittany have been coming across the Channel to sell their onions to the English. Brits call them “onion Johnnies.”

They sell a particular mild pink onion from the area around the town of Roscoff, which they braid onto plaits of straw, loop over the handlebars of their bicycles and sell door-to-door. Oh, yeah…they wear little black berets and little black mustaches and really camp it up.

It started in the early Nineteenth C when one farmer realized he could get more for his crop here than they could there. Eventually, there were a couple of thousand making the regular run. They’d bring the crop over and warehouse it in July, then slowly fan out on their bicycles selling them to housewives until December or later.

The onions keep about six months; hang them up in the kitchen and snip one off from time to time. (My old mother would have LOVED this. She had a sort of onion fetish, as did her mother before her. We had onions as a centerpiece at the dining table and got onions in our stockings at Christmas. Come to think of it, that kind of sucks, doesn’t it?).

Our onion Johnny was cheating; he had a table outside the local grocery shop. And no mustache. But he did have a slick color brochure (printed with an EU grant — don’t get me started) which I have lost. It informed me that there are now 25 onion Johnnies.

They’re probably as authentic as the Pirates on a Disney ride, but poor old Uncle B got all excited. He remembers real onion Johnnies from the Before Time.




Comment from Allen
Time: August 31, 2009, 5:53 pm

That takes some big onions to do something like that.

Come on we had to get that out of the way as early as possible 🙂

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: August 31, 2009, 7:21 pm

Now what would they call the guys selling Vidalias door-to-door?

Comment from iamfelix
Time: August 31, 2009, 8:10 pm

I like the new “resteses.” 🙂

Comment from Dawn
Time: August 31, 2009, 10:45 pm

I’d buy that!

Comment from Roman Wolf
Time: September 1, 2009, 3:39 am

So Uncle B, is in fact, a dinosaur?


Erm, just in case someone doesn’t get the archaic reference from my childhood. After all, you people are all OLD(well, by my youthful standard).

Comment from Poindexter
Time: September 1, 2009, 1:08 pm

During my two years of missionary work in Central America, I often had to travel by (mini)bus to towns and villages out in the back country. At each stop, the bus would be swarmed by vendors, including old (and wise?) Latinas holding up strings of onions like the one shown above and yelling, “¡Cebollas! ¡Cebollas! ¡Cebollas!” One of my fond memories (no, really).

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: September 1, 2009, 7:42 pm

I hope y’all stocked up on light bulbs!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 1, 2009, 8:17 pm

Don’t Crow Enas – your new CIC (first word rhymes with gimp) has been listening to his fellow Marxists in Yoorp.

Welcome to the communal twilight, feelthy capitalists… kindly hang your freedoms on the peg marked ‘Sucker’ then make your way to the Castro Memorial Education Compound.

First we came for your light bulbs…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 1, 2009, 8:21 pm

What le badger means (I think) is, brace yourselves. It’s coming. We read that you’re getting the ban, too, though I’m not sure exactly which ones or when.

I’m assuming most Americans are unaware of that, or there would be the most godawful stink.

And yes, thanks — we stocked the HELL up before the ban came down. One whole shelf in the pantry is all bulbs.

Comment from Pavel
Time: September 1, 2009, 10:27 pm

Onions: always a delight. Did you ever wonder how God came up with these things? All those layers, and they last for freaking ever in the pantry. I’m pretty sure He was stoned one night and said, “Platypuses! *zap* and Onions! *zap*.”

Then there’s the French.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: September 2, 2009, 1:56 pm

The truly retarded thing about the ban on incandescents is that CFLs are a transition technology. If the bureaucrats had just held their water for five or ten years we’d have all moved seamlessly to white LED clusters. No-one used CFLs fifteen years ago; no-one will use them fifteen years from now.

Comment from Gregory the First
Time: September 4, 2009, 2:40 am

Eh. Never gonna happen in Malaysia, I’m glad to say. I could always ship a few cases across if you need them that badly…

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