While I think of myself as a pretty good cook, I am not a chef by any means. And by that I mean that I don’t – or can’t – do so many of the activities that I think define someone with an iota of formal training. Such as: sharpening knives, cutting vegetables into uniform pieces, remembering which cut of meat is from what part of the animal, flipping omelets. I’ve managed to get around so many of those aforementioned techniques – I get my knives professionally sharpened from the guy in the sharpening van who comes to the farmer’s market every month, I declare my dishes “rustic” and I have to constantly look up my go-to cow butchering illustration to remember whether I should braise or grill. But omelets – you either are eating one, or you are eating scrambled eggs. Like many things in life, there is no in-between.
And until recently I was fine with eating scrambled eggs.
I should also add that I have been eating a lot of eggs lately. I follow a mostly local diet and have also been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity so protein has been my morning nutrition of choice. Eggs over easy and frittatas needed an interesting and quick menu-mate. Then my mother bought me an avocado-green omelet pan. She had recently read Julia Child’s memoir and said she could imagine me flipping omelets like the queen of French cooking herself. Well, then. I found an old episode of Julia describing her technique and thought it didn’t look so hard.
My first attempt was almost accidental. I was alone on a Saturday morning with fancy cheese leftover from the previous night’s feast. I whisked together two eggs and poured them into the nonstick omelet pan. My rubber spatula happened to be close at hand and I dragged it through the quickly cooking pool of egg like Julia had. In the time in took me to open the fridge to grab the cheese (ok, another reason I am not a chef – I rarely have the patience to create my mis en place) my omelet had already started to set. I threw some gorgonzola crumbles into the middle of my egg pool and then folded it in half with ease. I must admit, it wasn’t hard. And the appearance of an almost cooked omelet in my cute green pan was alluring. I threw a pinch of sal de herbe de provence onto the omelet and twisted my pepper mill once around. I tilted my pan a bit to cook the edges of the omelet along the curve of the metal. But what it really needed was to be flipped.
But I don’t know how to flip an omelet, I told myself.
The eggs were browning, I noticed. They would become crusty and rubbery if I delayed. I did not tell myself again that I didn’t know how to flip an omelet.
I had no formal training. But what I had was confidence. Confidence that I knew what needed to be done. Confidence that my wrist would know just the force and angle to use to complete that 180 degree turn.
Or not. Maybe I just thought that I had nothing to lose (except a few minutes and a couple of eggs) and everything to gain. And what the hell, everyone starts somewhere and sometime and I might as well start then and there.
Or not. I think I didn’t think. I just picked up my pan, released the eggs with a shake of my wrist and then flicked. The omelet did a half flip and landed with a perfect ten.
And now I am a cook who flips omelets