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Thursday, 31 May 2012

Bastardised Eggs Florentine. For Unmarried People Only.

Now if you’re married, I don't really know why you're here.

Didn’t u read the title?
Or did you not pay attention?

Well. Obviously not, and obviously not.


Anyway, now that you're here, you might as well stay. No problem.

But don't blame me if reading this makes you bemoan the choices you've made in life.

Because, since you're clearly not very smart (only joking), I'm willing to bet that the lot of you have gotten married for a whole host of irrelevant factors, such as love and compatibility.

Oh, don't think I don't see you...nodding into the computer screen at this very instant!!

Aaah… but if you're single...
If you are single, I welcome you with open arms (and tea and biscuits if you're nice to me). You've come to absolutely the right place.  Because I'm just about to save your life.
(You can thank me later.)

And so, I thought the most effective way to show you exactly how I’m going to save your life, would be to share a real, personal and deeply moving experience. It’s true, by the way, all true. I hold no secrets. I bare my soul to you…


Read on…

So, one of the things I’ve grown up eating (pretty much since I started eating), is what we’ve always called paalak waala toast. Now, after putting considerable thought into the matter, I have concluded that paalak waala toast is best described in English, as Bastardised Eggs Florentine.

Well. Sorry. But it is.

It’s literally a piece of buttered toast, layered with spinach and topped with a poached egg. Without the hollandaise. But with the obligatory garam masala.

See what I mean?
Bastardised Eggs Florentine.
How else could one possibly describe it?

So anyhow, I adore paalak waala toast
Adore it with every fibre of my being.

Give me paalak waala toast:
And my heart beats faster – thump, thump, thump, thump.
My pulse quickens.
And the many butterflies inside my stomach flutter their multi-coloured wings.

And so, quite naturally, every time I go home to India, I demand it for breakfast. Once a day, every day. Sometimes more. It’s shameful I know.  What can I say? I’m a brazen-faced glutton. But you knew that already.

I don’t even need to ask for it, really. I sit down to breakfast, and it appears like magic, fresh and hot and straight off the pan. Oh, the many joys of the India-trip…I’m telling you, having rellies in “developing nations” has it’s very distinct advantages.

Anyhow: Not so long ago, I was on one such (joyful) India-trip. But it was no ordinary jaunt, this one. Oh no.  In fact, it was a rather momentous occasion: it was the first time I was taking Sid home with me.

Now, we weren’t married or even engaged but I knew (deep inside my love-stricken, deluded little heart) that this was the man I was going to marry. And yes, in case you’re wondering mum insisted we sleep in separate bedrooms.


Anyhow, the following morning, Sid and I wake (in our separate bedrooms), wash up and come down for breakfast.

Sid is asked if he wants tea or coffee, by my Tamil-speaking, Jesus-loving, fabulous and trusty cook, Maryam.

(There is only one right answer, by the way. Coffee, coffee, always coffee. In South India, you’d be a fool not to drink the coffee)

“Coffee,” he chooses correctly, as I breathe a sigh of relief. Cannot abide fools. Simply can’t.

Anyway, the coffee is promptly delivered …along with two steaming hot plates of paalak waala toast. One for me, one for “paiyan” (which roughly translated from Tamil, means – “fellow.”)

So far, so good.
And then it all starts to go rapidly downhill.

Barely a spoon into my beloved paalak waala toast, Sid makes, (under his breath, but loud enough for me to hear) the following blasphemous observation:

“The eggs are a curious shade of green.”

I gasp, audibly.

“Excuse me,” I say. “What did you just say?”

He doesn't take the lifeline I've so generously offered. Instead, and rather annoyingly, he gets louder.

“Well, the eggs are green,” he says, “and the whole thing has a strange taste of masala to it”

Uh oh.

What’s all that about getting out of the frying pan and into the fire?
Since, we’re talking eggs and all.

I’m so horrified I’m at a loss for words. In fact I don’t think I’ve heard right. I couldn’t have. Need to get my ears cleaned. And I’m in India too, they’ll do it for cheap.

“Say that again please?” I ask politely.

He obligingly repeats himself. “I can’t eat this,” he says. And then, proceeds to set down his knife and fork and declare quite firmly – “I don’t like it.”

The room goes deathly silent.

I am looking pale and stricken.
My father is trying not to laugh.
My mother recovers fastest.

“No problem,” she says patronisingly. “We can make you something else.”

I give her the Look.

"Whose side are you on" I want to ask her.

But I can barely get the words out of my mouth.

At this point my father strategically claims that he simply must watch the morning news and leaves the room. My mother follows, most reluctantly.

I, on the other hand, sit on my chair, my half-eaten paalak waala toast before me.  And feel faint.

This is a travesty to trump all travesties.

Somehow and with great difficulty, I manage to pull myself together. And remark, in complete and utter disbelief – “What do you mean, you don’t like it? You can’t not like it. That’s impossible.

It turns out, it wasn’t impossible.

“I’m sorry,” he says looking all puppy-eyed,  “I really don’t like it. But I love you…”

Well. Hmph. Fat good that does.

Honestly, folks – I came this close to not marrying him.  But my heart (the love stricken, deluded one) just melted at the “I love you.”
And against my better judgement, I went for it.

And we all know how that’s turned out.

The jokes on me, people.
And on all of you married folk reading this, who like me, listened to your hearts and left your brains at home.

Shame on us. The whole collective foolish lot of us. Shame, Shame, Puppy Shame

But for all you single people?

You still have HOPE!

Please listen to me. I am trying to save YOU.

(oh and by the way, this is only applicable to those single people who think you’ve found someone you want to marry. If you’re still engaging in rife and rampant dating (you lucky buggers you) then doing this repeatedly might be too cumbersome a task.

Then again, If you’re a very lovely creature with a long list of besotted admirers vying for your attention, this might help prune the list. Trim the fat, skim the milk, strain out the tea leaves. If u know what I mean.)

So here’s the little experiment I want you to perform:

Think of that one person you want to marry. Then think of that one dish you’ve grown up with. Your personal equivalent of paalak waala toast.  Come one, you know you all have that one something – fish fingers or posto bata or makhan paratha or peanut butter and jelly – that stands out in every childhood food memory. That one something that you think longingly about when you’re supposed to be working. That one something that you would give an arm and a leg (or whatever personal choice of appendage) to taste again.

Yup! That one. Got it?

Now – this is very important – put the two together. i.e. Take said boy (or girl) home with you and serve them said dish.

It’s all very simple. Elementary, really.
An easy two-outcome situation.
And the results will determine the course of your life.

Outcome 1: If they LIKE it…

Congratulations. Fantastic news. But you must think smart and act fast.

Spare not a single second. Declare your undying love - loudly, passionately and with all your heart.

And then quickly – and with feeling – get down on a knee (yes, yes even if you're a girl - this is not the time nor place for gender roles.)
And pop the question.

Just do it!

Look deep into their beady eyes and say: "Will you, darling whatever-their-name-is (very irrelevant right now), marry me?"

Go for it! Seize the moment!

Nothing will feel more right, I'm telling you.

This is IT.

This creature before you, who shares your love for paalak waala toast (or posto bata et al) has descended from heaven, only for you.

He (or she) is your heart’s desire, your soul mate, your true love...

Your kindred spirit, your reason for being, your turtledove….

The yin to your yang.
The Juliet to your inner Romeo (or vv).
The ONE.

You may not know it, but I do: He (or she) completes you.

So promise me you'll do it.
And I promise you, that this is the true litmus test upon which every matrimonial decision should be based.

(my Chemistry teacher would just be so proud of me right now…I told her I wouldn't fail her forever...)

No really, trust me: you will live happily ever after. And one day when you have hundreds of beautiful grandchildren, you will thank me.


On a less cheerful note.

Outcome 2: If they DON’T like it...

(I don’t need to spell it out, now, do I)


Here’s Bastardised Eggs Florentine - (1 portion) (since I married someone who won't eat it because "the eggs are a curious shade of green”) (sigh).

Here’s what you need:

-     1 toast, buttered
-     Handful of baby spinach
-     1 poached egg
-     Pinch garam masala
-     Pinch whole cumin
-     Salt and pepper, to taste
-     Tsp of butter or olive oil

Here's how you do it: 

Add spinach to a pan and place over high heat. When it has wilted, lower the heat, cover and cook for a minute. Tip into a colander and press out the liquid. Melt some butter (or olive oil) in the same pan, add in some cumin and garam masala, remove from heat, add in the spinach and mix well.

Spoon onto the buttered toast and top with the poached egg. That’s all, folks!
(And - in case you're wondering - this post is green for a reason)

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