There really isn’t any food as erotic as the sunny side up egg. Think of the way the synapses in the brain sizzle at the sight of a golden yoke oozing its buttery pleasure in brothy soup, on top of a pile of greens, or spilled, meltingly, from the mouth of pasta. Let’s face it—that’s pure sex.
Last year, I started making pizza carabonara—having never before been interested in the pasta version, a reaction to an early boyfriend in the 80’s with bad taste and a penchant for using olive oil only instead of eggs — and fell instantly in lust with the combination of creamy garlic and mascarpone-topped crust larded with lovely chunks of sinful pancetta, brought perfectly into focus with an egg (or in my case four) and a bit of romano cheese. Oh, the thrill of fat on fat. The way my head begins to purr as the yolk spreads itself over what must be the four pillars of food pleasure: crunch, salt, garlic and umami (cheese).
It’s fair to say that my life lately has been a little dogged–definitely in need of some sexing up. So last week, a little hung over, I made burgers for the artist-lover and me, something that feels to me like slumming. While it’s true that there is nothing like a good juicy burger—I find them excruciatingly difficult to make at home. Absent the searing heat of a flat top, I’ll confess I can’t get a burger right. The problem with most (cheap) BBQ grills is that they don’t get hot enough to caramelize the meat quickly while still retaining a mid-rare center. But fresh off a night of a little too much Friuliano, I needed some grease and Greg was jonesing for what he calls regular food.
So burgers it was.
I fried some bacon and then took an hour or two to slow sauté thin brown onions until they were crispy. Then I fried an egg. The trick is to heat the pan so it is searing, melt butter, wait for the bubble and crack the egg before instantly turning the heat down to medium low. This way, the white will cook all the way and the yolk will be runny. I put this little trifecta (crispy onion, bacon, gloriously runny egg) on top of my cheddar burger—bun toasted, of course—and the result was so sublime, it shoved my long-time favorite–the blue-cheese burger–permanently to back of the bus.
I’d long ago learned the pleasure of the runny egg—from my buttoned-down mother who taught me to dip my toast into sunny side up eggs when I was young. Her pleasures were secret and the combination of butter melting into the slightly thickened yolk is a memory of mom I hold close to me. She ate eggs every day of her too short life.
|The Artist-Lover’s workHorse painting in progress by Greg Marquez
|The good news for the rest of us is that the secret pleasure of the egg is now sanctioned: Fat is back. We know it’s good for the metabolism and it has a calming effect on the brain. (If you don’t believe me, think of how you feel when you eat that pint of Ben and Jerry’s—it’s chemical and it’s real). There is no reason to avoid the perfect beauty and eroticism of the egg. At our house we buy the pricey Omega-3 kind, for health, for mood. Like my mom, Greg eats eggs every day for breakfast, sometimes scrambled, but sometimes adorably served as Toads in the Hole.
Me? I like my eggs all day long. Try a poached egg on top of spicy arugula salad dressed with truffle oil and lemon and shaved parmesan. Spinach salad with bacon would work just as well. Perfectly poached asparagus plated in a row simply begs for the sensual weight of an egg laid lovingly on top. Imagine the silky pleasure of a perfectly cooked yolk spilling onto pungent mushroom risotto or fried sweet potatoes with wilted chard.
For all my egg-fearing friends, here’s the challenge: Dip your toe in, make runny eggs, let yourself sink in. Be sexy. And serve it up, with an egg.