Sunday, 31 March 2013

For Frank McCourt (1930 - 2009),

“Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world lovelier than fresh warm bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?"
  -- Angela's Ashes

Fortunately, I can't relate much to Frank McCourt's memoir of poverty. His schooling ended at 13. His family was poor, and when the charity of the Irish Christian Brothers ran out, so did Frank's educational opportunities. He sought more schooling but was always declined. It wasn't until after he had moved to the US that he was able to beg his way into university, and he fought hard for the privilege of studying towards his BA in English.  

I grew up with stable, nurturing parents who prioritised my education. I worked for awhile to afford my first degree, but a job was easily found; and after that, it was smooth sailing. Now, I study for an advanced degree with a scholarship and a small teaching income. My weekends are leisurely enough and funded enough (usually) to allow for delicious brunches. It's all a far cry from Angela's Ashes

Yet no matter what one's socio-economical background, the lure of eggs, bread, and tea persists. 

Pick up any book of breakfast recipes. A good fraction of the dishes - at least half, in most of my books - will be a variation on the theme of eggs and bread. Scrambled, poached, fried. Bagels, ciabatta, grainy, crumpets, flatbreads, fresh or toasted. In the United Kingdom, you'd dip soldiers into boiled eggs with runny centres. In Italy, you would poach the eggs in a tomato sauce and mop it up with bread. In Morocco, you'd add spices. In Israel, you'd add chickpeas. In New Zealand, you can't enter a cafe in the morning without tripping over a few plates of eggs benedict. Even syrup-drenched french toast follows the eggs-and-bread formula.

Perhaps because I live with an Englishman, eggs, bread, and tea feature heavily in our regular cooking rotation. Not just in the morning, either. Breakfast-for-dinner is a real thing, and if it's not, well, we're grown-ups, you can't stop us.*

But sometimes you do want to put a bit of a spin on things. Literally. By spinning them. When I realised that my omelette pan was exactly the same size as the wraps I'd bought, this became clear. Spread wrap with yummy things. Make omelette. Slap omelette on wrap. Roll up & slice. Brilliant. 

 *Same goes for dessert-for-dinner. 

Breakfast Roll-Ups

Serves 2

4 eggs
2 wraps (make sure they are the soft, no-tear kind)
2C baby spinach leaves
1 avocado, mashed
3 tsp butter
2 capsicums, any colour, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced chilli
Salt & pepper


Melt one teaspoon of butter in a pan (roughly the size of your wraps if possible), over medium-high heat. Add the capsicums & onion, along with the garlic and chilli, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the pan and set aside. 

Prepare your wraps: place each wrap on a large plate, and spread half of the mashed avocado on each. Load on lots of baby spinach leaves. Set aside. 

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with salt & pepper. Melt the second teaspoon of butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle half of the cooked capsicum & onion mixture into the pan. Pour over half of the egg mixture. Cook without stirring until the egg is set and the bottom is starting to come away at the sides. (This involves cooking for longer than you would for a standard omelette. The idea is to sacrifice a little softness for more crispiness so that you can move the omelette in one piece.) 

When it's cooked, use a large flat spatula to move the omelette onto the waiting spinach-laden wrap. Roll the whole lot tightly, as if you were making cinnamon buns. Slice into thirds. Secure each piece with a toothpick if it's threatening to unravel. 

Repeat for the second omelette and wrap. 

Serve with chilli flakes, a lemon wedge, and a hot mug of tea.

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