Don’t judge an onion (banana juice) by its peel

March 14, 2019 — by Phoebe Wang

“It tastes like onion and banana juice!”

Impressionable 5-year-old me watched the screen with rapt attention as Avatar Aang, the protagonist of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” spit out the strange yellowish liquid given to him by Guru Pathik in the episode “The Guru.”

“That’s because it is,” Guru Pathik replied.

I’ve been a fan of “Avatar” since I was a small child, so when the lovely life section editors proposed a story on trying this strange concoction from a childhood memory I thought I would never have the chance to try (because what kind of responsible parents would let their kid drink onion banana juice), I knew I had to seize this opportunity.

Although “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and its sequel series “Avatar: The Legend of Korra” are chock full of interesting foods based on Asian cuisine (such as sticky rice buns and seaweed noodles), onion banana juice has always stood out to me as the most interesting, simply because it appears to be a food completely unique to the Avatarverse. Other than maybe a questionable juice cleanse, there aren’t any foods that are similar in other settings. Also, apparently onion banana juice is supposed to help cleanse your chakra pathways and help unlock the Avatar State, a long desired dream of mine.

Armed with a Vitamix and cooking supplies that Guru Pathik definitely didn’t have at the Eastern Air Temple, I took my three bananas and half an onion to the kitchen to attempt making onion banana juice. After obtaining brief reign over the kitchen and getting a weird look from my mom, I set myself to the task of creation.

Anyone who has eaten a raw onion knows that it has a bit of a spicy taste with a pungent odor, and I knew that in order to make this drink taste good I would have to figure out a way to deal with it. My mom, who apparently did not completely trust me in the kitchen, suggested caramelizing the onion before blending it with the banana. I also did some research that said soaking the raw onion in milk or baking soda takes away some of the onion’s strong taste.

As such, I prepared five different bowls, just to taste the difference: raw onion, no treatment; cooked onion; raw onion, soaked in baking soda; raw onion, soaked in milk; and raw onion, soaked in both milk and baking soda.

With each combination, I put a splash of milk since the ingredients wouldn’t blend properly in the blender without some liquid, in hopes of making the onion banana juice taste more like a smoothie than vegetable water.

After whipping up all five bowls, it was now time for the test of courage: The onion banana juice sat in front of me, the pungent odor of onion wafting over across the table. It was yellowish with the consistency of a Yoplait. After much hesitation, I picked up my first bowl and took my first sip. And it wasn’t disgusting.

The first one I tried was the plain onion banana juice. As Avatar Aang said, it did taste like onion banana juice, with all the spiciness and sharpness onions have and the sweet creaminess of bananas.

The next one was the baking soda onion. This one tasted less spicy but otherwise the same as the first one. The milk soaked one tasted the same, with reduced onion flavor.

The most interesting combinations were the grilled onion and the milk and baking soda combination. The grilled onion banana juice was ridiculously sweet and smelled strongly of grease. It was delicious for the first few mouthfuls if you could  ignore the smell of grilled onion. The baking soda milk combination eliminated the onion smell and taste from the juice, so it only tasted like banana milk. I managed to finish the whole bowl of this combination, but not the other bowls.

Rewatching “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” I now wonder how Avatar Aang lasted a week on this concoction, and how Guru Pathik drinks it exclusively. My fire chakra is glad that I only had to drink onion banana juice once.

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