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-   -   Eating a slice of bread while cutting an onion (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=376278)

panache45 06-19-2006 12:34 AM

Eating a slice of bread while cutting an onion
 
My grandmother always said that, if you eat a slice of bread while cutting an onion, you won't cry. I've tried it and it works. Why?

Cunctator 06-19-2006 12:42 AM

I've tried it too and I don't think it does work.

Askance 06-19-2006 12:52 AM

And there's no reason why it would work. The onion fumes are still getting in your eyes exactly the same. Maybe chewing on bread distracts you from your distress, that'd be about it.

My friend wears a snorkelling mask and snorkel while doing onions, now that works.

diggleblop 06-19-2006 12:55 AM

Old wives tale.

gabriela 06-19-2006 06:04 AM

Outside any of my areas of expertise here (your Honor, the witness is being called on to speculate, she hasn't been qualified as an expert in onion cutting) but I think one tears up while onion cutting from the release of irritating gaseous organic compounds. Is one of them cysteine sulfoxide?

If a person were using a sufficiently absorbent piece of bread, it might take up enough of the gas to let the rest dissipate, and keep her eyes from watering. And that might be the start of the idea. Another person using a piece of bread that was thinner or older or less absorbent right out of the package (or oven) might not get significant absorption, and that might be why it didn't work.

Lissa 06-19-2006 08:15 AM

I had always heard that you should chew gum while chopping onions, not eat bread.

SnakesCatLady 06-19-2006 08:39 AM

I had always heard that if you hold a piece of raw potato in your mouth, it stops the crying. I've never tried it. And of course, some onions make me cry more than others.

panache45 06-19-2006 09:30 AM

Well, I've tried it several times (back when I was eating stronger onions than I do now) and it seemed to work. So could this be psychosomatic?

Mangosteen 06-19-2006 07:48 PM

The idea is not to EAT the piece of bread. You need to bite into it and let it hang down from your mouth and catch the fumes.

panache45 06-19-2006 10:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mangosteen
The idea is not to EAT the piece of bread. You need to bite into it and let it hang down from your mouth and catch the fumes.

So you'd be better off using a frisbee?

Joey P 06-20-2006 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by panache45
So you'd be better off using a frisbee?

Yup, until you chop you're fingers off.

I heard somewhere keeping them in the fridge will help, and Alton mentions not cutting too close to the butt (the part where the roots are) becuase the majority of the chemical reaction happens there. I've found it's best to just cut/chop/slice/dice/whatever it quick and get it mixed into what you're doing as soon as you can.

PBear42 06-20-2006 01:29 AM

As for the OP, I hafta believe it's a placebo effect. As for how to avoid tears, yes, chilling helps, as it reduces the amount of juice sprayed into the air. More effective is to use a truly sharp knife and to slice (moving the blade) rather than just press down. Again, less spray.

HMS Irruncible 06-20-2006 10:09 AM

Bread? I doubt it.

Most of the working possibilities I've heard involve somehow ventilating the area.
1) Run water into an unplugged sink, creating a downdraft into the pipes
2) Operate your oven fan
3) Open a window

Or, as a last resort, wear goggles

bup 06-20-2006 10:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joey P
Alton mentions not cutting too close to the butt (the part where the roots are) becuase the majority of the chemical reaction happens there.

Yep, that works for me. But because I'm cheap, I cut it there first, and rinse the open cuts immediately, then proceed with my slicing.

kayT 06-20-2006 10:30 AM

If you hold the bread in your mouth and let it hang down as suggested above, it does work for a while and the bread gets very cold, which I assume has something to do with the chemical it is absorbing. However, the bread does get "full" and then it stops working.

Chefguy 06-20-2006 10:58 AM

Wetting your forearms and wrists helps with the problem. The enzyme that makes you tear up is attacking the moist mucous membranes. While wetting your forearms won't eliminate the problem, I find that it greatly reduces it.

Burrido 06-20-2006 02:35 PM

Wow, lots of different spins on this. I was always taught to have a slice of cucumber hanging out of your mouth for onions.

MovieMogul 06-20-2006 04:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Burrido
Wow, lots of different spins on this. I was always taught to have a slice of cucumber hanging out of your mouth for onions.

Well, to be on the safe side, from now on, I'm going to have a cucumber sandwich hanging out of my mouth.

Fish 06-20-2006 06:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SnakesCatLady
I had always heard that if you hold a piece of raw potato in your mouth, it stops the crying.

But remember, if you use a piece of raw potato, be sure to turn the power off first.

:D

Chefguy 06-20-2006 09:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ArchiveGuy
Well, to be on the safe side, from now on, I'm going to have a cucumber sandwich hanging out of my mouth.

Make that a wet cucumber sandwich and you'll be fine.

Askance 06-21-2006 01:08 AM

Hmm, maybe it's simply having your mouth closed that helps? Stuffing some bread up your nose would probably help even more.

Trunk 06-21-2006 12:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kayT
If you hold the bread in your mouth and let it hang down as suggested above, it does work for a while and the bread gets very cold, which I assume has something to do with the chemical it is absorbing. However, the bread does get "full" and then it stops working.

So, if I went home and cut up an onion and held a piece of bread over it, you're telling me the bread would get very cold? Must I dangle the piece of bread from my mouth?

What kind of magic voodoo is this?

ChipsNDip 06-21-2006 01:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Brain Wreck
Or, as a last resort, wear goggles

Why is this the last resort? I have a pair of swim goggles in my kitchen utility drawer that I use for cutting onions, and for grilling food when I'm using my cast iron smoker box... Sure, it takes away a bit from the manly image of food cooking over fire, but it's a lifesaver.

Of course, there's always the cucumber sandwich...


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