To make an omelette is a life skill. Elizabeth David may have her detractors, but she was right about its steadying properties.
I’ve been making a lot of omelettes lately. I’ve been teaching a goat cheese and basil version to my neighbour in the spirit of Jamie Oliver’s food revolution day (approaching fast on May 19). Make a neighbour a meal and you’ve fed them for a night. Teach them how quick it is to produce an omelette and you’ve potentially fed them for weeks.
Then on Sunday one of my oldest friends arrived in London. As he walked into our flat out of the dark and dreary night he wore that peakish look that belongs to someone who’s spent 9 hours battling public transport systems across two continents. I’d eaten dinner four hours earlier and was relaxing on the couch with a fat book and a glass of wine. In the fridge I had eggs, herbs and cheese. On the bench sat a ripe tomato. Next to it was the rough heel of a baguette.
‘Would you like an omelette and a glass of wine?’ I asked.
The look I got back said it all.
Making an omelette is a way of feeling at home, no matter where in the world you are.
(There’s a reason the queues for them are so long in alien hotel buffets.)
On days when I get lost inside myself, not sure if Sydney or London is my nest; missing people and knowing more than ever what it is I’m skipping out on by being over here, I’ll make myself an omelette for lunch.
I take time out from my desk. I break my eggs with confidence. I take a fork and beat them up, instead of myself. I shake the pan and try to shift in the eggs that sense of being loose and adrift in an overwhelming space.
I can now make an omelette in four minutes. After I’ve encouraged it onto my plate I’ll sit with my back to the window and flip through one of the books I’ve accumulated while we’ve been here. Wise words from the food writers I admire; whether A.J Liebling, Amanda Hesser, Calvin Trillin or Nicki Segnit have got me through some lonely lunch times, while close friends and family sleep on the other side of the world.
Sound words are steadying. So are these simple omelettes. And on very dire days, it’s nice to know there’s always the crutch of a sneaky half glass of wine.
Zucchini, spinach and lardon omelette (with a glass of wine)
This is basic template for an omelette. You could substitute the zucchini for mushrooms and the spinach for basil. You could skip out on the bacon, or substitute it for chorizo. I do think some cheese is non negotiable. My favourite is goat’s curd, or Boursin- I love the way its gentle structure oozes and relaxes into the lightly cooked eggs.
Here’s how we roll
1) Beat the eggs well with a fork or a whisk. Try and get some levity in there. You can add a small splosh of milk if you like.
5. Place the pan back on the medium heat and add the lump of butter. Allow it to melt, brown slightly and swirl to coat all of the surface of the pan (the butter will help the eggs emulsify together- it will also help you flip it without tears).
6. Pour the eggs into the pan and shake them around to swirl and coat. Keep shaking on and off the heat to encourage a bit of rippling and texture. Slowly drag the firm edges of the omelette into the centre at 12 o’clock and tilt the pan to allow the liquid egg to spill into the empty space. Do the same at 3 o’clock.
8. Tilt the pan to a 45 degree angle (like the tilting Titanic) to help the omelette slide down to the lip of the pan . This will then help you to fold the bottom up to meet the top with a spatula, sandwiching the centre.
9. Gently slide the folded and filled omelette onto a plate. Serve with some leaves, a good book, a glass of wine and a sense of quiet satisfaction.