Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Great Eggsperiment; or, one hundred million Mexicans can't be wrong

This was an experiment that began over Christmas break, but I've been dragging out the stages and trials because it was so darn interesting. And because I wanted to take more cool pictures.

How this experiment began was with five dozen eggs in December. Two of our roommates were heading out of town for Christmas break and they left the two of us, Julia Child and I, to care for/dispose of all of the leftover eggs. Why are we all buying separate eggs anyway? I'm not sure. We love eggs. And with the number of breakfasts I like to have with scrambled eggs and the frequency of fried rice days, it's never been a problem before. But when it's two of you and an empty apartment and five dozen leftover eggs, you have to get to work.

Julia Child ponders the existential properties of the egg.

So here, in no particular order, is a rapid fire spate of results of the Great Eggsperiment.

Poaching the Egg

We watched Julie & Julia, the two of us, back when it was in theaters, and then again the day it came out on DVD, and then about 43 times since then. We even made Yao Ming and the other Chinese boys watch it with us once. They thought it was a cinematic masterpiece and have been thanking us for the culturally enlightening experience ever since.

I personally thought Julia was a little more endearing than Julie but that's because we looked up the real Julie's blog and it was full of profanity and nice girls who write cooking blogs can't cuss like sailors. Sorry, it just ruins your cute factor, even if Amy Adams plays you on the big screen.

Anyway, one of Julie's feats is poaching an egg. We realized that we'd never poached an egg either, so we set to work. Everything we found online made it sound really daunting but it turned out to be just fine. All it takes is water with a little vinegar splashed in - brought to a boil and then turned down to just below boiling. Swirl the water so there's a little whirlpool in the middle and then carefully drop the raw egg into the whirlpool.

We got lucky and got it right on the first try. A lovely little white jewel.

Problem is, with a poached egg, is once you've cooked it then someone has to eat it. And it's so pristine - you didn't even get to adulterate it with some salt. And who wants to eat an unadulterated egg?

Jungle Breakfast

I'll state right out my inherent bias: eggs were meant to be scrambled. This is a scientific fact, friends; no matter how you cook them, the yolk and white were meant to be one harmonious whole. Were this not true, the yolk would not taste like sulfur sludge when you ate it on its own.

I'm also a firm believer in adulterating the uncooked egg, usually with salt. I'm also a firm believer in cooking everything in butter. Thus is born my default egg setting: a variation on scrambled eggs that I like to call huevos anequítos. You whip up scrambled eggs, add some salt, and fry them in butter. Life is good.

Life is even better if you have some plátanos or burro bananas sitting around (you know, like you do sometimes) and you fry those in butter too and lightly salt them. Life is downright amazing if you also have an avocado to slice up. And some Herdez salsa.

And thus was born Jungle Breakfast (doodle oot doodle oot)... Jungle Breakfast (get it on!)

Sweet Rolled Japanese Omelette

I tried these again on Japanese New Year, and they came out better that time, so read those directions if you want to try it out. This first time we tried it they came out super ugly. But we ate it on an artsy white plate, so we salvaged our dignity.

They were good drizzled in okonomiyaki sauce. Only problem is, now Julia Child is addicted to the stuff, which she insists on calling okonomiyummy. And she eats it all sorts of inappropriate ways, like on fried rice.

the ugliest Sweet Rolled Japanese Omelettes in town

Chinese Tea Eggs

I made these on Christmas Eve. I was planning to spend Christmas Eve watching a Bollywood movie with my South African German friend upstairs, so in anticipation of the evening I cooked all afternoon - I made Inarizushi and Chinese Tea Eggs. What? How do you spend Christmas Eve?

This was a recipe from a beautiful book I have called The Food of China. (I read it for the pictures.) Problem is, it calls for black tea and we're sort of Mormony here. So I may or may not have sort of fudged the line and used decaffeinated green tea. This is not officially sanctioned. I never told you this, actually. At all.

Hard-boil 10 eggs. Lighty tap and roll them on a hard surface to make cool-looking cracks all over them.

Boil 4 cups of water
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine (I used alcohol free sweet Japanese honteri)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons tea leaves

Simmer for 20 minutes, then add the eggs and simmer for another 45 minutes. Turn the eggs over occasionally to get the color even. Turn off the heat and let the eggs sit until cool enough to handle. Remove the shells and serve whole or sliced, with the sauce spooned over the top.

Pretty! Turns out my South African German friend doesn't like sushi or Chinese Tea Eggs. I tried leaving them out for Santa but he wouldn't eat them either.


My family is from Texas. I'm not typically very proud of this fact, but then I eat migas and I remember why I should be.

This isn't the ideal migas - we would need fresh cilantro and tomatoes and cheese and black beans to make it fully awesome, but it's still pretty darn good.

The secret to the deliciousness of migas is corn tortillas. All you do is act like you're going to make plain old huevos anequítos but first you cut or tear up some corn tortillas and fry them in butter until they start getting crisp. Then add in your eggs and scramble.

These ones here are just served with some bottled red peppers and salsa verde, but can you even imagine how beautiful the world would be if you had onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and maybe some black or refried beans, and maybe some melted Mexican cheese on top? Oaxaca cheese. Don't try to imagine too hard, though, friends, because you might never be content with your lonely little life and the real world again.

Or rather, imagine, but follow it up quickly with some real-life migas action.

One Hundred Million Mexicans Can't Be Wrong

This last dish is one that I made up, but it's related to the migas and the jungle breakfast. It sprang fully-formed from my forehead one morning but I'd been cogitating for quite a while on the idea that Mexican eggs tend to be more joyous in your mouth than any other eggs from anywhere else in the world.

I think it's time for a random pointless anecdote. One time I was in Oaxaca and we were eating breakfast at the hotel - Las Golondrinas - at the little table down in the little courtyard where the lady takes your order. We were at the long table, 10 art students and two of our professors, chatting in English while the poor lady tried to make sense of our breakfast orders. I don't really actually speak Spanish at any respectable level, but no one else in my group spoke it at all so I was the default translator. One of the girls at the other end of the table was giving her order to the abuelita and shouted down for me for clarification. "How do you say Friday?"

"Viernes," I hollered back.

I thought nothing more of it until our food came 10 minutes later. The girl got her plate of huevos served with beans, salsa, tortillas and other lovely things and started protesting loudly. "This is NOT what I ordered."

It took a while to sort out the confusion, but it turns out the poor abuelita had had no idea what the girl had wanted so brought her what everyone else was having.

"I ordered a fried egg," the girl whined to me.

"Oh," I realized. "No, actually you didn't. You ordered a Friday. Sorry - I must not have heard you right."

This dish isn't made of fried eggs - huevos estrellados, we later found out - but it is good to eat on Fridays.

What is it? It's just scrambled eggs, but you also scramble them with a can of hominy. And you season them with salt, cumin and chile powder.

Then, when you're halfway through the delectable mélange, you exclaim to yourself, "My lands! She was right! And they were all right! Those hundred million Mexicans! How could I have thought they were wrong all these years?"

So, the conclusion of the Great Eggsperiment is this: one hundred million Mexicans can't be wrong. Life is beautiful, and that beauty comes from the fusion of corn, eggs and beans. Back together, like the Universe intended them to be.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Excuse me while I scoop up the gelatinous mass that was formerly my brain and try to dribble it back in through my ear (anything going up the nose is just unpleasant). Seriously, this post was so awesome that my brain transversed space and time only to explode in mid air and semi-coagulate on the floor of my kitchen. My body simply could not move fast enough to appease the egg craving. Marvelous.

  3. So, I usually don't descend from my Olympian mound to make such trifling corrections, but after your "article of the day" I thought you might appreciate it:

    "Two of our roommates were heading out of town for Christmas break and they left the two of us, Julia Child and I, to care for/dispose of all of the leftover eggs."

    Should be "Two of our..., Julia Child and me,..."

    Don't hate me.