"I just want to let all you Foodsters out there in cyberspace know that I just made the PERFECT omelette. As Foodsters, you should know that this is no small feat..."
My buddy Maxwell Walker, in Melbourne, has just sent me (and a couple of others) a message on Facebook to let me know that he has, apparently, conquered one of the "Foodsters'"TM holy grails - the plain, old, garden variety omelette. So, so simple. Deceptively simple. But what does he mean? What is a perfect omelette? Pretty subjective, I reckon.
So I asked him - "what makes your omelette so damned special?!"
This is how he responded:
"You know sometimes you just really nail it in life? You get the 'green man' without having to stop walking, you make the perfect interchange between jumping off the train and catching the right bus. You sit down to a home-cooked meal just as Masterchef starts, you pull off the perfect biting Facebook retort with just the right wording that really cuts to the bone and destroys your "friend", momentarily. You could perhaps call these small moments of divinity, when everything seems to have a haze of other-worldly wonder to it. Everything in Its Right Place, as Thom Yorke once famously crooned.
"That's what happened on my breakfast plate the other day. After various attempts at rather unsuccessful 'leftover' omelettes (too much sausage/not enough egg - sounds like a bad male to female ratio at a party) I finally succumbed to a plain omelette comprising three eggs and some grated tasty. You know when you first record music on a computer and you're bewildered by the amount of choices available? Suddenly your song is littered with phase-drenched synths, quadruple tracked vocals and a marimba with way too much reverb on it. An overcomplicated mess - that's what my omelettes had become.
"My friend James Goldsmith once said to me, concerning songwriting: 'Just gimme three chords and the truth.' Wise words, that seemed even wiser when applied to omelette making. Three ingredients (eggs, butter and cheese) and the truth led me to the perfect dish. First, I slipped a generous teaspoon of George Calombaris' favorite Western Star butter into a medium sized non-stick pan on a medium heat. Cooking eggs in oil (unless frying, which is occasionally acceptable) is for fools; butter is the way forward.
"I then tipped the beaten eggs with half the grated cheese into the pan. After about a minute I turned the heat down to extremely low. The spell on medium was designed to give the bottom a golden sheen, but the quick switch to low was to avoid the most heinous of all crimes; overcooked, rubbery egg. As the eggs started to turn opaque I removed the pan from the heat and sprinkled the remaining cheese in a line down the center, then deftly flipped the edges of the opposing sides to cover the cheese and create a crepe-like, canary yellow tube.
"I left it to rest for about two minutes, letting the residual heat finish the cooking process. Upon cutting into the dish, a generous amount of melted tasty oozed out and I knew I had created something special. The outside of the egg mixture was flecked with the slightest hint of golden brown whilst the inside remained soft, moist and yielding. Without the distraction of other ingredients I was able to taste to the very core of the eggs. Finally, Rick Stein's annoying catchphrase made sense; every single ingredient was 'singing' in a beautiful chorus. I was left to reflect on James' wisdom once again. With the help of those three humble ingredients, I had arrived at The Truth. A damn fine omelette."
Thank you, Maxy. A heart-warming account of one of those dishes that are just perfect at a moment in time (even if his zen friend is quoting that big old bag o' wind Bono at him!). I hope to hear more in future from Max - my "man on the ground" in Melbourne, and one of the fooding-est guys I know, in one of the fooding-est towns I've ever been to.
Meantime, what do you make of Max's perfect omelette technique? Any other tips or ideas to throw into the ring? And - with what other three ingredients might you achieve such transcendence?
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