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The Curse of the Omelet

Popular belief states that every family has a recipe that gets passed on through the generations. But what about curses? Do they also get passed down?

While I was learning to make eggs while standing on a step stool, I made a beautiful tri-fold omelet. My mother walked by and stopped in her tracks. I didn’t think much of it and started to make a mess of pancake batter.

A few years later she mentioned that, even though she was a decent cook, she couldn’t make omelets. I laughed about it and put this idea in the back of my mind until one mischievous day, I asked my grandmother for an omelet for breakfast. Her soft olive skin turned pink and she offered to make me chocolate cake, honey fried donuts, brik a l’oeuf (see “Give me an Egg” for the whole story), and sesame caramel candies. My suspicion was thus aroused, and I had the chutzpah to ask her if she could make an omelet. She sighed and said no. I then asked if her mother knew how, and she laughed nostalgically. Turns out that my great-grandmother was so paranoid about the curse of the omelet that she’d given up on cooking eggs all together. After having asked the rest of the women in my family, I came to the frightening conclusion that, no matter how culinarily adept they were, they just couldn’t make an omelet, tri-fold or otherwise.

The curse of the omelet stayed at the back of my mind as my cooking skills grew. Over the years, I continued to practice making omelets in both French and Spanish traditions, but much to my dismay, they never reached my painfully high standard. They would come out embarrassingly dry and blackened, drooling raw egg, broken in 4 different places, or somehow all of the above.

So is it a curse because I was told there was one and I’ve just been psyching myself out all these years?

See the theory on two different versions of omelet cookery, below.





Classic omelet

2 eggs

1 tbs water

¼ cup grated swiss or cheddar cheese

salt, pepper to taste

1 tbs butter

Crack the eggs in a bowl and add the water, salt and pepper. Whisk very well, until the mixture is foamy and light orange. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat, add the butter once the pan is hot. It should foam and sizzle. Pour in the eggs, let sit for 15 seconds or so and start pulling the egg edges towards the middle in a circle, so that the lower layers can access the bottom of the pan. Do this until most of the egg is cooked and sprinkle the cheese on one half of the omelet. Fold the other half over to form a semi-circle, hope that the bottom half hasn’t blackened, then flip the whole thing over. Wait 20 seconds and slide onto a plate.

Spanish omelet/tortilla

1 large potato, peeled and sliced in ¼ inch rounds

½ onion, julienned

4 eggs, whisked very well

small handful of parsley, chopped

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp paprika

salt to taste

2 tbs oil, for cooking

Heat ½ tbs oil in a frying pan on low heat, add the onion and potatoes. Steam, partially covered for half an hour or so, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Strain the mixture through a colander. Warm the rest of the oil in a frying pan over medium and add the potatoes and onion mixture. Add the eggs, pepper, salt, paprika and parsley. Cook on medium heat until nearly cooked through, invert onto a plate and cook for a few minutes on the other side. This is where the breaking usually happens. Repeat the inversions twice more and serve warm with a simple green salad.

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