So, what’s up, 2014?
Still not cooking or baking a whole lot, still really into food. There’s been a few highlights that I probably should have shared on here—there was that week I spent eating raclette (hot cheese over charcuterie + potatoes), tartiflette (gratin of potatoes, bacon lardons, cream, onions and cheese) and fondue in the Savoie region of the French alps; there was this peanut butter and chocolate layer cake I made for a friend’s birthday; there was a morning spent making and eating caramel pecan sticky buns to show and/or shock my European friends about the glories of American gluttony—and there’s also just been a whole lot of the simple stuff that makes up everday meals. On the run-of-the-mill days, that’s pasta and ham and green beans from a tin, but the more pleasant of days are made up of stuff like endive and beet salads, or a poulet rôti served with good mayonnaise and mustard, or omelettes like these.
People seem to have some combination of contempt and fear regarding omelettes; I don’t really know the parameters involving all of this so I can’t tell you if I’m doing something wrong or not, but I can tell you that I’ve made like, probably over a hundred of them, and at this point I’m pretty sure I’ve mastered them to my tastes. My tastes being a good, soft, runny omelette filled with some slices of creamy oozy cheese or salty prosciutto.
What’s a blog post, though, without throwing in some universal-truth-snobbisms about how to eat food? So as apologetic as I was about what a good omelette is, I can be pretty harsh about what an omelette is not. Please don’t stuff it with a bunch of raw vegetables like baby spinach and bell peppers and mushrooms and try making the thing some disgraceful vehicle for reaching your daily vitamin intake. Don’t overcook it (this usually goes hand-in-hand with the stuffed-vegetable-vehicle omelettes, I think, in which case the poor thing has two things going against it). And, I’m kind of going reaching shaky grounds here, but don’t eat it for breakfast or brunch.
With that last point, I think it’s mostly the influence of living in France that’s gotten to me. Last week, I surprised myself at just how much I loved and agreed with this pretty deftly anti-brunch article from David Tanis, thinking to myself that, of all the things one could eat during the morning, a six-egg omelette with sausage and bacon or a stack of chocolate waffles might be a little excessive. For breakfast, I like toast with butter and honey and black tea, or sometimes a croissant and an espresso, or sometimes nothing at all (!). Yogurt with granola sounds weird, because yogurt is primarily a dessert, to follow lunch or dinner. And, speaking of yogurt, greek-style stuff sounds sick and non-fat sounds kind of inedible. I probably eat whole-wheat bread about once a month, and even more than that, I’ve managed to somehow convince myself that refined-white-flour bread isn’t unhealthy at all. Really, my whole view on “health” with food has changed completely (but bread, it’s good for you! butter, it’s good for you! People have to eat!), but that is a whole other huge tangent in itself.
And I used to be so into brunch and big breakfasts! I don’t know whether my ability to assimilate into a place is a good or bad thing—probably a combination of both. I can see how it’s kind of pathetic and/or most likely annoying to others—like, I must look like I’m trying so hard to be cool and French, what with my pro-croissants anti-whole-wheat self-righteousness I’m plowing through this post with. But it is what it is (a cop-out phrase I’m obviously using because I don’t know how to justify myself in any logical, non-hypocritcal way).
And so. This omelette, it’s not for breakfast. It makes for a good, light lunch or dinner, with a dressed salad or some potatoes on the side. I make myself one at least once a week, and I kind of like everything about them—they’re done in about 5 minutes, as cheap as cheap gets, not unhealthy, and they taste damn good. For me, the keys to having a perfect omelette are: 1) having enough (read: a lot) of salt and pepper when beating the eggs and milk/cream together, 2) having enough (read: more than you think and/or want) butter to coat the pan, and 3) taking the omelette off the heat before the eggs are completely set. I add in fillings of slices of prosciutto or thin slivers of a cheese like comte or caprice des dieux or emmental when the eggs still look a little gooey on the top, let it all settle together off the heat for a minute or so, and then flip it over and slide it onto a plate. When I’m eating my way through it, good eggy juices should escape from the omelette—I’m not sure if it’s runny eggs or melty cheese, but it doesn’t really make any difference because it is delicious, especially when soaked up by some bread.
— The entire Building Something Out of Nothing album by Modest Mouse (especially Broke, Workin On Leavin the Livin and Whenever I Breathe Out, You Breathe In)
— I saw Pete Doherty and his band Babyshambles live last weekend, and I’m like kind of in love with the guy now (in case you don’t know, he looks like this so obviously his stage presence/charisma/talent was like, beyond). Unbilotitled, Delivery and F**k Forever are a few especially awesome ones
— The Racine Carrée album from Stromae. Really late to the Stromae game, but man, I’m making up for lost time
How to make an omelette
Crack two eggs into a bowl; add a glug of milk or cream and very liberal dusting of black pepper and good salt, and whisk it all together. Put a non-stick pan over medium heat and drop in a nice chunk of butter—enough to coat the entire bottom of the pan with at least a thin film of butter by the time it all melts and begins to bubble a little bit. Add in the eggs, turn the heat down a little lower, and don’t do anything for about a minute. Once the edges look like they’ve started to set, carefully lift up a side to let all the wobbly uncooked egg on the top slide over to fill under the pan. Do this a few more times, maybe 5 or so, on different sections of the omelette. At this point, the sides and bottom will look pretty set, but the top will still be wet and uncooked. Turn off the heat, top thin slices of prosciutto or some nice cheese over the omelette, and then using a spatula flip one half of the omelette over itself. You can let this sit in the pan for another half minute or so, then slide it onto your plate.
I had some luck when I was making the omelette shown in these pictures. My host parents had a whole stock of maybe 6 or so cheeses from the fromagerie in the fridge, so I had some good pickings to choose from when filling my omelette. I ended up choosing a really creamy brie. After I finished my lunch, I had another cheese—a really strong but creamy and delicious roquefort—for dessert with some more bread. I also thought you guys might like the paper the cheese is wrapped in. So many good forms of dairy come out of this country.
To continue my trend of not really talking or sharing any food around here (despite my recent statements saying I really had some serious intentions to do just that), I really have no interest in doing a sort of re-cap with my favorite recipes of the year—just not in the mood for it. And it’s kind of already really too late, anyway. I do however have a handful of songs I’d like to share, ones that sum up 2013 for me. Since arriving in Paris, especially, a certain few songs have come to define life lately. I blame the fact that I only have about 30 listen-able songs on my iphone that I recycle through on a daily basis while riding the metro. Obviously, this post is mostly for my own pleasure, but who knows? Maybe some of you are looking for some new (seasonally-appropriate) music. And if nothing else… naw, I got nothing. So here goes, a year in music and all the feels:
R U Mine? by Arctic Monkeys
September by Earth, Wind & Fire
Might Be Wrong by Radiohead, on late/early metro rides home
Feel the Pain by Dinasour Jr.
Tomorrow is A Long Time by Bob Dylan (Whitmark Demos only, please)