Think fried. Think crunchy. Now think onions. Doesn’t that sound as if it would be a lovely combination — sort of like fried onion rings without all that pesky finger-licking grease? That’s what I first thought when I spied these “Onion Chips” at the Fresh Market in Huntsville, Alabama, recently: “Chips made out of onions! Genius! Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?” But the answer to that question was clear after one bite: No one had done this before because it’s a horrible idea. At least this version is. You know how when you accidentally eat some of the inedible onion skin and it literally tastes like paper — paper that tastes really really bad? Imagine that in crispy form and you’ve got these onion chips. Yuck. It’s sad that somehow the concept of fried onions got messed up so badly. I couldn’t even think of anything to do with them after everybody I forced to taste them politely declined to have any more. I mean, there’s your sign, right there. I’d thought about grinding them up for breading crumbs or salad add-ons or something creative like that, but these don’t even deserve a second life.
So to offset such food awfullness, go out and buy/borrow/read/look at/check out Martha Foose’s new cookbook, “A Southerly Course.” Martha is a Mississippi native and personifies the best of the Magnolia State — open-hearted, generous, adept at storytelling, skilled in the kitchen and wrapping it all up with a wry sense of humor and an appreciation of all the cultures and heritages that make up today’s South. And the recipes are absolutely wonderful: Bacon Crackers. Sugarcane Sweet Potatoes. Honey Pear Salad. Pickled Crawfish Tails. Summertime Spaghetti Squash. Peach Shortcake. Dandelion Cracklings. And the photos! Gorgeous food close-ups using heirloom china and vintage linens combined with hometown shots of the Foose folks — Martha even reveals her messy refrigerator door — make this cookbook seem both a food-feast and a friend’s scrapbook. But “A Southerly Course” is more than a collection of user-friendly yummy recipes. Martha knows that the soul of good cooking is the love that goes into every spoonful — the sharing of good times with family and friends, the sharing of laughter around the table, the sharing of priceless memories with those you care about. Now, that is Southern cooking, Mississippi-style.