We have a habit of over-complicating food. Often we ask our plates to not only feed our hunger but to satiate our ego and earn us some kind of credibility too. Though if we take away these burdens, we can be rewarded with humble meals that feed our hearts and stomachs in equal measures. For many it is a pile of fish fingers, slapped between two slices of superbly soft white bread. Perhaps a blanketing of tartar sauce or maybe just a dribble of ketchup, but always a burly sheet of butter. Better still, spag bol. Thick ribbons of pasta laced in a dark, ruddy ragu, rich in garlic and with whisperings of bay. And then there’s crumble, a buttery bowl of beige begging to be drowned in custard. The simple pleasures of our kitchen celebrate ease and the utterly uncomplicated, not with the intent of shedding disgrace to anything more lavish, but to honour food in its truest sense. And for me, that begins with the alchemy of cheese and eggs; just a golden yolk and a grating of cheddar.
There is something about it, the magic that ensues upon the crack of the shell and the waft of whatever block is lurking in the fridge. On the page, their marriage sounds unassuming and without any great expectation. Yet on the plate it is a coupling that makes complete sense. Whether it’s mature cheddar fooling us as it melts silently into a pool of scrambled eggs. Or soft goat’s feta, whipped until sweet and paired with a fried egg whose sunshine heart begs for a little earthiness. Not forgetting mellow Taleggio, buttery and tangy atop baked eggs. Even a few shavings of Manchego sandwiched between a jammy soft boiled egg is a wondrous treasure.
And whilst most simple pleasures rarely require a recipe- intuition and comfort typically prevail- there are a few that are worth a place in your repertoire. Meera Sodha’s Sun House Chilli Eggs are a reigning weekday lunch. And Wylie Dusfresne’s Scrambled Egg Sandwich is really the anytime snack. Hungry at 11 but don’t quite know what you want? Wylie’s scrambled egg sandwich. Need a quick tea? Wylie’s scrambled egg sandwich. You get where I’m going. Anna Jones’ Soft Green Herb Omelette is a non-negotiable for any time of the year. While Nigel Slater’s Asparagus Souffle sings springtime on a plate, and then some. And as for Ali Francis’ Cakelet, where do I begin? This omelette-pancake hybrid is something I regret not discovering sooner, but I am grateful to have discovered it nonetheless.
I will never tire of the abundance of ways in which eggs and cheese can wed. And I take just as much pleasure in their accessibility and affordability as I do their deliciousness. Just a plain plate of food, no adornment necessary, not even a pinch of flaky sea salt. So go forth, crack the shell and grate the cheese. Give thanks to such humble beginnings.
Faye's piece was originally published in Issue 3 of Potluck, our Back to Basics issue. Get your copy using the link below: