A food memory has been playing around the edges of my mind these past few weeks. It’s my brother and me as young children, stumbling into the kitchen on school mornings, seeing my mother standing at the stove preparing this egg and apple dish. I can still see how precisely she cut the apple wedges into the thinnest slices, dropping them into foamy butter in the pan. The way the frying apples perfumed the kitchen with their sweet aroma. Then the sound of the beaten eggs sliding into the pan, and adding their eggy notes to the fragrance dancing in the kitchen. I can still feel the anticipation as she slid the plates in front of us, then the first surprising bite, where the sweetness of the apple was a perfect contrast to the richness of the egg, waking up the palate and welcoming us to another day.
This is a dish that my mother used to enjoy as a child in Belgium. I’ve been thinking more about my heritage lately, and the idea of exploring some of the dishes special to it. My mother was only 14 when her family came to Canada, and by the time I was growing up she was quite assimilated. Still, her style of cooking and especially some of the dishes she made were decidedly European and, more specifically, Flemish in nature. I’d like to make sure that I capture those techniques and recipes, and share them with my own family.
This morning I decided to make this egg and apple dish for breakfast, and the Culinary Enthusiast’s reaction to the first bite was a “wow!” of surprise. This is the alchemy of cooking: a simple dish with only two main ingredients can result in something greater than the sum of its parts, packed with flavour yet delicate.
My brother and I always added a sprinkling of brown sugar to our eggs and apples. I suppose, as kids, we added sugar to just about anything we could get away with, but it enhanced the sweetness of the dish and, although I didn’t think this way at the time, also added another textural note.
For some reason that I don’t fathom, I never made this dish for my kids when they were growing up. Maybe I thought they wouldn’t like it, or perhaps somewhere along the way the memory was lost. But now it’s back, and I don’t think it will be lost again.
Fried Eggs and Apples
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 apple
- 1 – 2 tsp butter or margarine
- pepper and salt
- brown sugar
Slice the half apple into 4 wedges. Peel them and cut crosswise into thin slices. Heat the butter in a sauté pan until foamy, then add the apples, stirring occasionally until they just start to caramelize. Add a couple of grindings of fresh pepper to the apples, then pour the beaten eggs over. Cook over medium low heat, lifting the edges to let the uncooked egg run underneath. When most of the egg is cooked, gently loosen and flip, cooking just until done.
Cut into wedges and serve with a garnish of sprinkled brown sugar and a bit of salt to taste.