Last weekend I wanted a change from my normal bacon and fried egg breakfast. However, the contents of my fridge forced me to reconsider. I had bacon and eggs, but my other available ingredients were limited to cheese, butter, and a few bottled sauces. I pondered the radical change of scrambling my eggs. But since frying eggs in bacon drippings is clearly the preeminent method to cook them, I concluded that this was a terrible idea. Inspiration then struck in the form of an iTunes random play of Para One’s “Every Little Thing.” Somehow the thought of the French electronic music producer led me to consider the venerable French egg dish known as “omelette,” or “omelet” at Waffle Houses throughout the southern US (and in my kitchen). Here’s the recipe. Cut the bacon crosswise into 1/4″ match sticks, known as lardons. While the bacon is frying, beat your eggs with a fork. Pour eggs into pan. Top the eggs with cheese. (I had a local jalapeno-spiked chèvre–goat cheese). Fold the omelet over, remove from pan, consume. The omelet tasted good, but something was missing. Food writer Albert Burneko recently suggested increasing the amount of acid from tomatoes, citrus, or vinegar to dishes for better taste. That’s when it hit me: add pickled shallots!
Archaeologists believe that ancient Mesopotamians pickled vegetables as early as 2400 BC, according to the NY Food Museum’s pickle history timeline. (The museum has an entire pickle wing!) Pickling preserves food by converting good bacteria into lactic acid that results in a desirable sour flavor. Once a vegetable has gone through the pickling process it is a pickle. Cucumbers are the most common pickle, but most vegetables–as well as fruits, mustard seeds (must try), and other food–can be pickled. The quality of the pickle is directly related to the quality of the starting vegetable. Pickling is a simple process: just submerge the vegetable in a brine and let the mixture sit in a cool place for a couple of days. There are many books about the art of pickling. My favorite treatment is in David Chang and Peter Meehan’s Momofuku cookbook. It would be extremely difficult to eat at one of David Chang’s restaurants and not consume a pickle, they are an accompaniment to many dishes and seasonal pickled vegetables are always available as snacks. I purchased shallots from the farmer’s market, peeled and put them in jar on Tuesday. Following the Momofuku recipe, I poured a brine of salt and sugar dissolved in a mixture of water and rice wine vinegar over the shallots and closed the jar. I let the jar sit out of the sun in my air conditioned apartment (you don’t want to store the jar at over 75 degrees Fahrenheit). Revisiting the bacon omelet this past Saturday, I diced half a pickled shallot while the bacon browned and added it to the pan with the eggs. The oniony-flavor of the shallot paired nicely with the eggs, bacon, and cheese and the acidity from the pickling process added a nice tartness not found in the original omelet. Thank you, Para One. // Owen Crowther