Friday, 20 April 2012

Cheap 'n' Greek 'n' frugal: Omelette (Ομελέτα)

Prices are in euro (valid in Hania). All ingredients are Greek or locally sourced; those marked with * are considered frugal here because they are cheap and/or people have their own supplies.
 P3210017-26, Eggs are a very sensitive issue in our house. I buy them in standard paper or plastic egg boxes, but I would only use them in baking, or brushing over a pie. We never fry or boil store-bought eggs for eating. I grew up solely on store-bought eggs (I can’t remember if I had ever even seen a chicken in New Zealand), so I thought this was a strange habit of my husband’s, not to eat store-bought eggs, until I tasted (and smelt) the difference between store-bought eggs and farm-fresh free-range eggs. They really do not compare. Not to mention the alluring bright yellow colour of the yolk in a farm-fresh egg. This was the first thing I noticed when I first saw my aunt using farm fresh eggs in Crete over two decades ago. 
Supermarket and farm-fresh eggs don't look too different on the outside - what matters more can't be seen.
When we don’t have farm-fresh eggs available to us, as in wintertime, when chickens don’t lay so many eggs due to the cold, we simply don’t eat eggs, and we don’t do omelettes either. It may sound strange to call the egg a seasonal item, but that’s what it is. For a chicken to lay eggs in the winter, it needs a suitably warm environment, which is usually achieved through artificial means.  

When a colleague recently complained of an excess ‘crop’ of eggs, we exchanged a swap between us: I get a dozen eggs when I need them, in exchange for a small crate of oranges from our groves, where the fruit is now just starting to ripen. If we didn’t have those farm-fresh free-range eggs, we simply wouldn’t eat eggs.
It is said that eating too many eggs raises your cholesterol, so maybe this is how we try to keep our cholesterol in check: by eating eggs when they are truly in season. It sounds crazy, but eggs are seasonal. You may not be able to understand this if you don't live in the country.

My omelette recipes vary according to what is available in the garden, but however I make them, they are a truly frugal meal.  

For one large omelette for 1-2 hungry eaters, you need:
2 eggs*
1 onion, thinly sliced*
1 clove garlic (optional), finely chopped*
a few sprigs of wild tender greens* – at the beginning of spring, I was using the tender sprouts of purple sprouting broccoli, as well as the sprouts of a cabbage plant, after the cabbage head has been chopped off; if you don’t have access to these, you can use some spinach or swiss chard leaves instead
a couple (or more) of tablespoons of home-made tomato sauce (or 1 tomato sliced thinly)*
salt and pepper*
olive oil*

 Sprouting broccoli and cabbage: these tender stems make a good substitute for horta.
Coat the pan with olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic for a minute, add the greens and allow to wilt, than add the tomatoes and seasonings. Beat the eggs together and pour over the vegetables. Allow the egg to set over high heat for half a minute, then tip the pan up and down to make the eggy liquid run down the sides of the pan evenly. Cook for a further half a minute. Then slide the omelette off the pan onto a plate, and tip it upside down to cook the other side (it will be too heavy to do an egg flip). 

Serve immediately with crusty bread. Enjoy. And savour.

Total cost of meal: bugger all, about €1 for 4 omelttes like the one above. Suitable for crisis-ridden rural households.

Total cost of the meal for four people: less than €1. Suitable for crisis-ridden rural households.

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