Yes, people eat this. Here, an assessment by two rabid onion-lovers and one normal person.
It didn’t sound good to me, this peanut butter and Walla Walla sweet onion sandwich. That’s raw onion, to be clear. And “sliced thick,” according to a reader who recommended it after I wrote about the greatness of our state’s prized onion in June. That was Carolyn in Mukilteo, who said it was her dad’s favorite way to eat them, and that she likes it as well, “sometimes with raisins added.” Then another reader recommended it, too.
The PB&WWS is, naturally, discussed on the ONIONLOVERS forum on Reddit, where a person who is presumably an onion-lover says, “Our neighbor in Idaho in the ’80s, an aging farmer named Arnold, used to swear by peanut butter and onion sandwiches. Just bread, buttered, with peanut butter and slices of raw onion… Walla Walla sweet ideally, but any variety suffices if you crave the sulfur sting.” (A commenter, understandably, says, “I don’t know if this is serious or not…” “Completely serious,” says the onion-lover, adding that the aging-farmer-neighbor got the idea from a sidebar in a farm-equipment catalog.) Elsewhere on the internet, the Eat a Sandwich blog says that Ernest Hemingway loved PB&Os, served with a glass of red wine. Of course he did.
While not an onion-lover, I like onions just fine. But I do not now and have not ever “craved the sulfur sting,” which makes it sound like Satan’s sandwich. However, my editor, Paige Collins, loves onions — she’ll eat a Walla Walla sweet like an apple. We had to try it, she said. I dragged my feet until Walla Walla season should have been over, but no dice; it’s late this year, with another week or so left, according to someone in the produce department at Central Coop.
To let this problematic-sounding sandwich put its best foot forward, the chef (me) used an organic Walla Walla sweet (exclusively grown by Sarah and Dan McClure of Walla Walla Organics, found locally at Central Coop, PCC, some Whole Foods and some Metropolitan Markets). The peanut butter: the classic favorite (if sticky to stir) Adams. The bread: Grand Central Sliced Como (excellent for sandwiches and also a favorite of Saveur magazine). The chef skipped the raisins and the red wine, theorizing that keeping this as simple as possible was advisable.
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