In Thailand, I fell in love for about 5 minutes with a well-travelled Frenchman whose parents make documentaries about the slaughter of dolphins. We met at an Irish pub with about an hour left of 2010, and after tequila shots and dancing to live reggae, had a very happy new year indeed.
I like new years and I like new beginnings. I like changes in attitude, and appreciating that how you felt once can be looked upon as an isolated point in history. I like catching up with someone after ages and it being awesome over awkward. I like realising that how you feel about someone or something has changed. It hits you in a kind of subtle "huh!", like you haven't even realised until now that you're really really happy. I feel completely liberated and free of 2010; I haven't felt this liberated since I had my first brazilian wax. And liberation feels good.
French was definitely a recurring flavour of my recent travels, and I enjoyed quizzing all the Frenchies I met about their various hometown cuisines. And if I thought my desire to have a black bob and learn to speak french just like Audrey Tatou was strong after watching Coco avant Chanel, it sure is a whole lot stronger now.
Attempting a little life sortage (laundry, vacuuming, unpacking etc) home alone on a Sunday evening, I turned to Damien Pignolet for some french-style food inspiration. Damien Pignolet and En Vogue (although En Vogue's inspiration was neither French nor food-related. It was just me singing this song at full volume three times in a row before dinner. Hugely inspirational).
What I found in his book French, which coincided nicely with the fresh eggs in the fridge, was a step by step guide to making one of the frenchest of foods, the omelette. Damien dedicates an entire chapter to eggs, and it was with slight surprise that I realised I had never in fact made an omelette properly. I decided that if faced with it as a challenge on Masterchef I'd totally lose, because isn't it the thing that anyone who professes to know anything about cooking should have mastered? Um, yes.
True to style though, I acted confident and thereafter enjoyed the tastiest solo Sunday night dinner imaginable! I backed up Damien's step by step photos by also watching Jamie Oliver whip one up on you tube. I followed his advice and left out creme fraiche, cream or milk. Mine went like this:
*Place a knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a shallow sided smallish frypan, over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt, and spin the pan around to get even coverage.
*Lightly whisk two eggs (three if you're protein loading, or really hungry) in a bowl with a fork.
*Pour eggs into the pan and swirl the pan to get even coverage. Allow it to set for a minute, then I used a fork to swirl it a bit more. I then left it a little longer, then got a rubber spatula and swirled that around the circumference.
*Turn down the heat slightly, and add whatever topping takes your fancy. Damien suggests prawns, garlic and sorrel. I can highly recommend grated cheese and a little chopped tomato, since they're in season and cheap. Sprinkle over a little salt and some cracked pepper.
*Give it a minute, and when the cheese has melted a bit, fold. I went in-half and in-half again.
And that patch on the plate there next to the toast? Gooey luxurious melted cheese. The texture was great; soft in the middle but hard and thin enough around the edges to just use a fork to cut each mouthful and reveal the soft inside. Having lost at laundry, and having failed at my goal of having a kebab-free weekend, perfecting an omelette was a very satisfying win.