Onions, psychologist of the poor

Onions, a versatile pungent bulb. The secret to a juicy empanada. With every bite, its fluids fill your mouth with love that drips down your fingers, luring you to lick and slurp every drop. Its umami permeates lust. Abuela use to say, ‘No need to be ashamed of an amor untamed.’

A julienned onion is a beautiful thing. Thin translucent strips. Browned with adobo in a hot buttery pan for a sweet figazza pizza. There’s pleasure in food that’s well presented, the eyes eat too. Remember, Mamá always warned, ‘Use a sharp cuchillo,’ and let your knuckles kiss the blade, guiding its way, one perfect slice at a time.

An onion tugging at the heart is a satisfying sting. A reminder of your humanity peeling. Exposing the root of your innermost feelings. What was once held tight to the core, now left cut flesh raw. Layers upon layers. Tía once said, ‘Onions are the psychologists of the poor.’ Their milky blood bleeds onto the board what your words or pocket cannot afford.  

Natalia Figueroa Barroso is a Uruguayan-Australian poet and storyteller who was raised between the unceded lands of Charrúa Nation and Dharug Country. Natalia’s a member of Sweatshop Literacy Movement and has degrees in Communication, Screenwriting and Media Production from the University of Technology, Sydney. Natalia has appeared in Sweatshop Women: Volume One, Racism: Stories on Fear, Hate & Bigotry, SBS Voices, Story Casters, Newcastle Poetry Prize 2021 anthology, Kindling and Sage, SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition 2021 anthology and Meanjin. She’s currently a cultural advisor and script translator on the Stan TV series, Bump and an editorial assistant for Aster(ix) Journal.

By Natalia Figueroa Barroso

Issue 1 | Autumn 2022

Ciudad de Mexico, Sandridge Beach | Alejandro del Castillo

A summer in your city | Suzanne Hermanoczki