The last time I was at my friend Sarah’s house, I filched her copy of Provence 1970, a book about the couple of months a handful of American food writers spent in France at the turning (the author argues) of an epoch in taste. Many of the writers, like M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, and James Beard, had already gotten to experience the shift from thinking of food as convenient to thinking of food as pleasurable. Really, they helped set that very swerve in motion, in part inspired by their shared Francophilia. France had offered them inspiration in this epicurean journey for so long, and yet now they’d stopped being sure if the country and the country’s cuisine were still as full of promise and discovery for them. In 1970, they were looking back to the U.S.
Besides from feeling jealous of the tight-knit, serious group of foodies–and not at all jealous of their, er, pretentiousness–the book has me wondering if we, too, have a similar shift on our hands. Not just an obsession with freshness and quality that allow us to consider incredible bread, fabulous gruyere, fresh olive oil, and dukkah lunch, as I did this Saturday. That’s as old as the foodie conversations conducted in Provence in 1970. But now, there is access. You don’t have to be James Beard to eat well. You don’t have to follow Julia Child’s recipe for homemade sausage, because the sausage we can buy is good. And we don’t have to travel to France to get the best ingredients. Even if we don’t stumble across good stuff on our way home from the train or at a new farmers’ market stall, we’ve got the internet. That online bit is where the discovery subscription service Hatchery comes in.
Hatchery is a subscription box for delicious fancy food products. Like a CSA for little delicacies from all across the country, Hatchery sends out a surprise collection of sample size artisan ingredients every month. (Each box costs $20 if you subscribe.) The Hatchery team discovers these remarkable bits of goodness by traveling from state to state, tasting quality, small-batch ingredients and sending the best ones out–including a coconut balsamic vinegar and a Tahitian lime olive oil that’ll be in the May box (and which I can’t wait to try!). Here’s the first post I wrote about cooking with my Hatchery ingredients.
Recently, I received La Fundida Fuego Salsa in a box, which brings me full circle in this post, as it got me thinking about discovery and invention once again. So much in food is cycled through from year to year and era to era, which makes sense. Why change a recipe that’s great or stop eating a vegetable you love? Though cuisine is subject to trends, eating is not trendy at all. At the end of the day, we don’t have to worry so much about inventing new dishes as we do about feeding ourselves well, day in and day out.
And yet I invented the open-faced, cheesy/gooey egg sandwich. Me. Less heavy than a weekend egg sandwich and more satisfying than a plain egg on toast, the open-faced egg sandwich first appeared on Big Girls, Small Kitchen two years ago and has graced my breakfast plate a hundred times since. Now, inspired by the salsa in my Hatchery box and the leftover tortillas in my fridge, I have re-invented it, translating the method into a Cinco de Mayo-appropriate breakfast, and open-faced egg quesadilla with chopped avocado and the most delicious salsa.
This is an incredible way to start your day–I think Julia Child, James Beard, and M.F.K Fisher would vouch for that. (Or would they?)
This post was sponsored by Hatchery. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!
Open-Faced Egg Quesadillas with Fuego Salsa & Avocado
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 small flour tortilla (or corn if you’re gluten-free)
1/4 avocado, chopped
Half a lime
2 tablespoons La Fundida Fuego Salsa
Heat a small nonstick pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes. While it heats, set the tortilla on your plate and top with the grated cheese.
Add half the butter and let it melt, then crack the egg into the pan. The whites should turn opaque quickly but not immediately. Sprinkle on some salt. When the whites have basically set, 2 to 3 minutes, use a silicon spatula to transfer the egg to the cheese-topped tortilla.
Place the rest of the butter in the frying pan and carefully slide the tortilla back into the pan. Turn the heat to the lowest possible setting. Improvise a lid–maybe use a cover from another pan, or some tin foil. Lower the heat to medium low, then cook for 4 minutes, until the bottom of the tortilla is golden, the cheese is melted, and the whites have set completely. Lift onto a plate, and pour any remaining butter in the pan over the top of the yolk. Dollop with the salsa. Squeeze lime and sprinkle salt on the chopped avocado and scatter the cubes on top. Eat immediately (you’ll probably want to knife and fork this one).