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The Sacred Pan And 2001 Omelets

Mar 21, 2019

A Story By Kevin Gallagher

On one of the first mornings we woke up together, Donna and I had breakfast on the sunny back porch of the third floor apartment she shared with her friend Dagmar, in a rambling old brownstone. It was a glorious morning and Donna made omelets. Now, I made omelets too, but hers were a world apart. While mine had the consistency of solidified scrambled eggs, hers were light and airy. Filled with roasted garlic, caramelized onion and aged cheddar, the egg still runny  – baveuse, as the French would have it, they slid easily from the pan. I was impressed and couldn’t help remarking that she wasn’t even using a non-stick pan, for I wouldn’t attempt an omelet without one. Donna assured me that a good solid pan was what was in order – non-stick pans were a cop-out.

We were given a set of Le Creuset pots, including two small skillets for a wedding gift by some dear friends. The smaller of the two became the omelet pan, and while the rest of the set has fallen by the wayside – unrecovered after potluck dinners or mixed and lost with the rest of the equipment in a dubious restaurant venture, this pan alone has achieved sacred status. It has suffered some indignities, thanks to two children, eager to cook and a husband who fails to realize that the pan must be hot before adding the fat, making it necessary to re-season the pan from time to time and we’ve all learned not to immerse it in soapy water. The brilliant orange exterior is scorched and faded but the patina of the cooking surface is dark and silky smooth.

We eat omelets – I would guess at an average of one a week and over forty years, that’s roughly 2000 omelets. We eat them with a green salad at the end of a long day at the restaurant; we eat them silently, easing past the end of an argument; we eat them lazily with toast and marmalade on Sunday mornings, confident the crew at the restaurant is doing us proud at brunch.

Omelets have become for us more than a meal. They are a sharing  – of life, of forgiveness, of common goals and like the brothers at the end of the movie Big Night an expression of the inexpressible.

Donna is still the maker of omelets, and the rest of us are cautious about using the pan, certain she is watching us out of the corner of her eye. However, like the sorcerer’s apprentice I try my hand when left unattended and not to brag but my technique is coming along, and I always handle the pan with reverence.