Those of you of a certain vintage - like me - will well remember the ‘Onion Johnnies’, the Breton farmers and vendors who travelled across to the UK from Brittany to sell their strings of onions slung over their bicycles.
It was always an exciting moment for me as a nipper when I spotted a heavily onion-laden bike being pushed up the street by a man, sometimes wearing a beret and striped shirt, and I would run in to tell my mother, who would usually buy a string of onions, whether she wanted them or not.
The onions they sold where from the Roscoff area of Brittany, which has a certain kind of soil which gives the onions a pink hue and a sweetness that means they are great raw in salads as well as cooked. And almost best of all - they don’t make you cry!
They are even AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) approved - just like a good French wine or cheese.
Alas, the Onion Johnnies have fizzled out these days, so it was with great surprise - and joy - that I noticed my local farm shop had a fantastic display of Roscoff onions, shallots and garlic.
They had been delivered only a few days previous by a modern day Onion Johnny, across from Brittany, and were strung in the traditional way, like on the bicycles.
Obviously, I had to buy some (whether I needed them or not) and it did give me a nostalgia hit from when I was a nipper.