Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Of Eggs and Fate

It was April of 2011. A long awaited and slightly avoided Skype call with my father was in order.
I had just flown into Mallorca Spain after 4 months in India and Morocco.  It was time. Time to face the facts and accept the raw truth of my reality. One that only Jimbo (that's dad) can offer to me at a time like this...
"Sweety, you have $500 in your bank account...... What on earth are you doing in Europe right now!? You can't even afford a ticket home to California, honey!"

He was right. And right then, like a lightning bolt, 4 months of colors and bliss came rushing through my mind. I settled into my seat and swam in a smile and satisfaction for money well spent. But the truth is unavoidable, and quite noticeable as I claimed a friend's sofa as my home and consumed only Spanish mandarins and fried eggs for a week now.

"I know, dad." I said calmly. "And you are right...... but I can't come home now. I'm living in the open question (yes. That is something you just do after months of "finding yourself" in India.) I am not meant to be there, I can feel it."

I was hovering just above that red line of financial lows, but I hadn't hit it yet... so to say.
The truth is that I did feel it. Something was happening, a shift in my world, and I could feel it deep in my being. A chapter was closing and a new to open, but I needed to hold still to see it. I couldn't leave now.

::Fast forward 7 days::

A couple traveling over from Austria were set to spend a weekend in Mallorca on holiday. A friend threw my name on the plate as someone to stock the fridge and tidy up. "oh yeah, and she's a chef and yoga teacher too." my friend mentions. On Thursday I made diner. Friday they enjoyed an hour of yoga and Berber omelet for breakfast. Sunday I moved to Vienna.

Now don't assume that I was just moving to Vienna to make some quick cash from a couple strangers. In fact, I actually liked them. There was a straight line of honesty and happiness from the beginning, and I wanted to see how this would evolve. It was like facing the open decision to turn right or turn left on a Sunday cruise. Your gut physically speaks the truth before your logic even kicks in. No I did not get punched in the stomach by a wealthy Austrian, thrown on a plane and made a servant in the kitchen. Far from. I was asked a simple question:
"Are you available for the next few months and beyond?"
Um... well...Other than my current in depth research of the citrus and egg diet manual I'm writing....... yes, I'm free.

::Fast forward 2 years::

I write this now from window seat on the third floor of a traditional family home in Switzerland. It is April and snowing. My fingertips smell of mountain cheese and cured meats, and my belly bloats from excessive bread consumption. I am happy, and I am set in motion of reflection.

In the past two years, in accordance with this couple and their extensive group of family and friends I have experienced an extremely abundant chapter in my life. As a private chef in their homes and boat, I cooked in 10 new countries, challenged my senses with foreign ingredients, challenged my  patience with tight quarters and long hours, challenged my stomach with high waves, and challenged my heart with an adorable Swiss engineer. My blessing from the past 2 years are abundant, and I can't help but be filled with gratitude, even through the struggle. My cup runneth over.

And to think, it all just started with a poached egg in spiced tomato broth on a Friday morning...

Berber Omlette

1/2 red onion, grated on a cheese grater
8 roma tomatoes, grated on a cheese grater
1 T Ras al Hanout (or a mixture of paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger and pepper)
6 eggs
fresh cilantro, chopped
Olive oil

In a 10" tagine or pan with lid, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onions, tomatoes, salt and Ras al Hanout spice mixture. Cook the mixture down to 3/4, stirring regularly, about 15 minutes. Add the eggs on at a time in a  circle and one in the middle. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and cover. Cook for 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Depending on your stovetop, it may take longer. Just check for doneness, just how you would when poaching an egg in water. Your looking for white whites, not clear. Present your omlette on the table, unavailing your masterpiece at the last minute. Sprinkle cilantro on the top just before enjoying. Sometimes and extra drizzle of olive oil doesn't hurt either. Serve with good bread. Enjoy!