You may know how to make an omelet, but do you know how to make a Roman omelet? Have you ever tried tamagoyaki, the Japanese version? How familiar are you with the history of this eggy meal? If, somehow, you haven’t had an omelet — or its virtually endless varieties — you’re missing out not only on tasty grub but on one of the most versatile and culture-specific dishes there is.
Here’s How To Make an Omelet: A Cultural Guide
The concept of frying eggs in a pan is something that has been discovered almost universally by different cultures, but that doesn’t mean it’s always prepared the same. Across the world, not everyone can agree on how to make an omelet.
The French omelet is treated as a fancy dish within the country. Made with whisked eggs, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and clarified butter and filled with ham and spinach, it is a unique blend of flavors with a custard-like interior.
Spain also has its version of the omelet, called the tortilla de patatas. The creation of this dish involves slicing potatoes and sautéing them in oil. Ginger, bell pepper, and onion are traditionally added. This mixture is then joined with eggs, cooked on each side, and after cooling, it’s carved into wedges.
The Japanese version of the omelet, called tamagoyaki, brings a unique preparation of its own. Eggs are combined with rice vinegar, sugar, and water before being sliced thinly and rolled into layers. It is then cut into parts and typically served with dip.
What Is the Thrilling History of the Omelet?
The precise origin of this dish is unknown, and historians can only speculate on when people first figured out how to make an omelet. It also depends on what kind you’re referring to. The traditional Western, or Denver, omelet, which contains ham, bell pepper, and onion, may have originated as a sandwich. Some historians believe it was invented by cattle drivers in the 19th century. Others point to Chinese railroad cooks. At some point, a version without the bread came to be, and that is the traditional Western omelet.
The word “omelet” itself has a history. The first French version, spelled “omelette” in the 16th century, comes from the word “alamette” in the 14th century, which literally means the blade of a knife or sword, referring to the flat shape of the dish. The first known use of the word “omelette” comes from 1784 in the Cuisine Bourgeoise publication.
Maybe It Was Napoleon? The Persians? Or the Romans?
While the origin of the omelet is rather mysterious, many cultures shared in a “Eureka!” moment when they first started frying eggs. In Bessieres, France, Napoleon and his army made a stop at an inn. The innkeepers introduced to him a meal of eggs. Apparently, they really knew how to make an omelet, because Napoleon was so impressed with the dish that he asked them to gather all the eggs they could for his army and prepare a great banquet.
To this day, there is an annual celebration in Bessieres commemorating this event, during which a gigantic omelet is made for the town to partake in.
The very first omelets may have been created in Persia. In modern-day Iran, a dish called kookoo sabzi is similar to a French quiche or an Italian frittata. The kookoo sabzi is loaded with chopped herbs and appears green.
The Romans were also known to have a dish resembling an omelet in which they used honey back in the 4th Century AD. China has a dish called egg foo yung, which typically includes ham, and that could have been the inspiration for the Denver omelet that Chinese railway cooks might have first created.
What Else Is There To Know About the Omelet?
The most expensive omelet money can buy is at Norma’s Restaurant at the Le Parker Meridien Hotel in New York City. Costing $1,000 to order, it contains 10 ounces of caviar and a pound of lobster. That might be the fanciest way how to make an omelet.
Many attempts have been made to create omelets of epic size. On March 19, 1994, 160,000 eggs were used to make an omelet that was 1,383 feet wide in Yokohama, Japan. This was one-upped by the Canadians on May 11, 2002, in Ontario, where they made a 4,300-pound omelet. But the largest omelet ever made weighed in at 14,225 pounds. It was created on August 11, 2012, in Santarem, Portugal, by the Ferreira do Zezere City Council. Led by head chef Pedro Mendes, this was accomplished by 55 people in six hours using a giant pan. The ingredients included 145,000 eggs, 220 pounds of butter, and 880 pounds of cooking oil.
How Do You Make a Traditional Western Omelet?
While there are recipes for various omelets around the world, let’s stick with the popular American version. Here’s how to make an omelet:
- Take two large eggs and whisk them in a medium-sized bowl with a little salt and black pepper.
- While you’re doing this, have a tablespoon of butter melting over medium-high heat in a small skillet. When the butter is melted, combine it with the eggs in the skillet and stir briefly. Let the eggs sit for about a minute.
- On one half of the egg pancake, add your toppings. They can be whatever you like, from ham and spinach to truffles. Don’t put them on too liberally, however, or the omelet will burst when folded.
- After the egg is completely cooked and the bottom is a golden-brown color, fold it in half. It’s now ready to be served.
And That’s How To Make An Omelet
Whether you’re eating an omelet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there is no shortage of ways to prepare it, and there’s no reason any two ever have to be the same. Now that you know the history and variety of this dish, you can appreciate its lore the next time you’re explaining to someone how to make an omelet.
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