Louisville Magazine

MAR 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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9 0 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.14 dine in WITH Mary Welp O ne tediously frigid night this past winter, I sat across the table from my brother in a Korean restaurant and watched him order a signature dish that comes out with an egg on top. Right in front of the server, who had to be the politest person on the planet, I hiss-whis- pered, "You hate eggs." Te nice woman tried to pretend she didn't hear me. My brother gave me the stink-eye. When she had returned to the back of the restaurant, he raised his beer and said, "Nope — not anymore. Not after the Yucatan." At frst I thought he meant he'd been forced to take it easy after an episode of Montezuma's Revenge. But no. In fact, he had learned to love a version of one of the oldest recipes in the world: the simple poached egg. Since our childhood, I had tried to convince the boy that eggs are one of the few grocery- list items that should never be erased. He had always begged to difer. He's been the same way about cheese and sour cream. Te cheese drawer of my refrigerator makes him itchy, like a caregiver who is just a split second away from phoning the psych ward. I asked him if he remembered the time I tried to get him to pay attention to the way Olympia Dukakis, playing Cher's mom in Moonstruck, fried the eggs inside the bread, known to English-speakers as egg-in-the-hole (or egg-in-a-nest, or egg-in-a-basket). "No." I asked if he remembered the time I was describ- ing to his daughter the old family recipe of an Italian friend, in which eggs are poached in marinara sauce. "No." I asked if he knew that there were versions of poached eggs from around the world that would make his head spin while holding the rest of him together? Again, "No." He didn't remember because he had not been interested at the time, and he still was not interested in cooking them, but he certainly was interested in eating them. I haven't told him yet, but I'm telling him now, along with everyone reading this column, that if you want to make yourself seriously hungry, go look at the website mrbreakfast. com. Specifcally check out the egg recipes. Tey will make you buy an extra carton or two on your next trip to the grocery. But back to the eggs from Mexico. It was in a restaurant in Mérida, capital of the Yucatan — and a place that takes its breakfast, as well as all other meals, quite seriously — that I my damn self frst tasted the eggs my brother was referring to. It was 1985. And these eggs were so good that they made me forget that Ronald Reagan was president of the United States. Tey had been cooked in a densely spiced, but somehow still light, tomato sauce in which I could detect onions, garlic, hot chiles and ci- lantro, and each egg was served atop one of the freshly made corn tortillas continually coming of the grill right outside the restaurant. We ordered these eggs all over the peninsula, every single morning of our trip, cholesterol be damned. Tey were so good that I actually, for a few months, allowed the word "brunch" (which is neither breakfast nor lunch) into my vocabulary. When we got back home, I kept trying to duplicate the eggs, and though I got close, it was never quite close enough — until I got my hands on a cookbook I have mentioned before in this column: False Tongues and Sunday Bread: A Guatemalan and Mayan Cookbook, which remains one of my favorite titles of all time. Te part before the colon, I mean. What I found out from False Tongues is that the secret ingredient that makes many a Central Ameri- can dish sing its siren song is: pumpkin seeds. Roasted, toasted, fried or ground, pump- kin seeds make almost any recipe that's tasty without them 10 times better with them. Try adding some to your next batch of chili and you'll see what I mean. Te question for many will be how long to cook the eggs. I never go beyond three min- utes, but that is because I don't ever want an egg to resemble hard-boiled. Te question for some others might be whether you can make this recipe using parsley instead of cilantro. Te answer is, if you don't eat cilantro, you lose. If you substitute parsley, it will still be good, but it will miss a great deal of its south-of-the- border character. If you're one who loves eggs best of all as a hangover cure, it's a terrifc idea to go ahead and make the sauce for this dish ahead of time; then all you have to do on the bleary-eyed morning is heat it up and drop in the eggs. Gingerly, of course. I am now of to convince my brother that he really does need to sample some Morbier cheese. Keep hope alive! Huevos Tomatoes By Mary Welp Illustration by Carrie Neumayer Poached eggs are too bland, you say? Not if you add a little Latin pizzazz. 84-120 BACK.indd 90 2/19/14 10:32 AM

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