Juliana Mitry, tells a folk tale about why the onion makes us cry. Juliana owns Balinese Spice Magic in Wollongong and hand-crafts Tempeh.
In this short video, Jules relates the Balinese story of why we cry when we cut onions and how soft and sweet it is. Juliana grew up in the Mountains in Bali, with an amazing array of homegrown food and spices.
A tale of social justice, the Balinese way.
“You know why you’re always sad every time you grind onion? My mom told me it’s because onion and garlic used to be sisters. Can I tell you a story? yeah! There used to be sisters called Bawang. and Kasuna. Bawang is the onion and Kasuna is garlic. Onion is the older sister. So, she used to do all the work and Kasuno is the white sister. She’s done nothing but pamper herself. “
“One day the mother went to the market so the mother said ‘Okay, you two girls, you have to do work today. If you do a good job, I’ll give you a treat. I’ll buy you some cakes and new stuff from the markets. And mum says to Onion, what do you want? and she says ‘that’s fine mummy, as long as you get home, I’m fine. and the second sister said ‘I need new clothes and I need everything new. So, the mother went.’
So, the big sister basically did everything. Starting from getting the putty out to the yard and then pounding it to get the seeds out. And then dry it in the sun and and pounding to get this just the husk off the rice. She basically done everything cleaned the house and then went to the river [this is cutting the story short].“
Garlic delays, Onion works straight away
“Every time she (onion) asks a sister to help the sister says “okay! you do that part I’ll do the other part”… “you do that part I’ll do the other parts”. It is always all the same answers. So, Bawang, being such a nice girl she thinks “I’ll do it because it’s just easier than waiting for Kasuna to do it”.
“Then the mother came home and there’s still you know like a one part that of the onion left behind. It was putting the rubbish out. But then Kasuna says I’ll make sure that I do that because you’ve done everything. I haven’t done anything. I’ll do that!” So, onion agrees “okay I’ll leave you that. And she went to the river, washed the clothes and everything’s been dirty because she’s doing all the work herself.“
“When garlic hears her mum coming she sits herself in all this husk (the rubbish) and started crying. She was pretending that she did all the work and that the big sister never did anything. “
“The sad thing was that poor onion got beaten and kicked out of the house. This is why you feel her sadness. But it a positive story because it’s has good karma, like in like most of Asian stories. The stories always support what is right. The Karma is because onion’s done good and she fell asleep under a tree, a magical bird calls her. ‘wake up, wake up little one, why are you sleeping here? Onion said ‘life took a really bad turn for me and nothing I do is right! “
“The bird says ‘because you look so sad, I’ll give you a treat like you can ask for you whatever you want’. Onion says ‘I just want a home’. The bird asks her to sing for me? The bird blesses her and brings her to the grandmother.“
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