Archive for June, 2013

Eggs A La Maison Kenya

Kenya has been in my mind a lot lately. That is not to say its ever left or been far from my mind, but lately it seems more present. A few weeks ago we had a heat wave here in New York and as the first 90 degree days sizzled the city I made eggs the way I used to eat them in Kenya and since then I haven’t been able to stop.

I have made eggs like this almost every summer since I returned two years ago; it feels like good hot weather food – simple, not requiring much stove time, protein packed. And it always happens that the second the garlic hits the butter the flood of memories storm across me.

I remember my third day arriving at the house I would live in for the month. Walking across the red brown dirt with acacia trees. Passing the stone house where my family’s grandfather with just one had lived, the other further stone house where the most enormous pig lived with another family. I carried my bag with my mind being blown in every direction as I walked past cows, the dogs jumping at my heels, the donkey that would wake me every morning and chickens everywhere. Where had I landed?

I remember entering the corrugated metal house and Margrete our 16-year-old care giver scurrying with excitement into the kitchen and the instant of smelling grease in a pan followed by the sizzle of eggs in the Blue Band Margarine. Before I could put my bag down Margrete was serving me and my driver two fried eggs with slices of orange. It was the hospitality I became so familiar with, and the eggs in this particular house.

Because it was a farm I woke most mornings to the sound of the donkey and the chickens and the dogs, a cacophonous noise I had never known before. The first few mornings after returning from my bucket shower Margrete would serve me two eggs fried, some fruit, some home made bread or chapati, and Nescafé mixed with chai.

I was not a huge fan then nor am I now of fried eggs, but I ate them. Then one morning my French roommate asked Margrete if we could make our own eggs and Margrete agreed. So started what would become the tradition at least once sometimes twice a day. Sarah and I created these eggs from what we found in that small kitchen, next to the 5 gallon white buckets of fresh eggs there were always some tomatoes and garlic. Over the two burner electric cook top we made what came to be known as Eggs Al La Maison Kenya a nod to the French roommate and the land we were both then living in. At times Margrete would even ask us to make her these same eggs and she would put on these airs while eating them of eating the finest food she could imagine.

Every time the garlic hits the butter now that I am home it brings me back to that house and the feel of the cool concrete floors in the mornings. It brings back the noise. It brings back the view on a particular morning when I woke just as the sun was rising and the cold of the night was still thick in the air. Margrete sat on the couch in the veranda of the house holding Jane and Naomi, and the glowing sunlight fell through the trees. These eggs always make me think of that sun—a sun more golden, hotter, stronger than one I have encountered in other places. It always makes me think of Margrete and Sarah.

I have thought of Kenya often since I have returned of how the kids at the orphanage have grown, if Margrete was able to make it to school, if the family I lived with is all doing well. And sometimes I worry about the many things that could have happened to one of those people I care about over there. But I try to push those thoughts away and replace them with kinder memories, and to accomplish that I always turn to these eggs.

Eggs A La Maison Kenya

2 eggs – preferably farm fresh or as close as you can get

1 tomato diced

1 medium clove fresh garlic diced (from a jar will taste odd in this recipe)

Butter

Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter (in Kenya this was Blue Band Margarine) in a pan. Add garlic to the butter and sauté for a moment until it starts to turn fragrant. Add the tomato and cook another minute until garlic is golden but not burned and tomato has released some of its juices and turned tender. Add eggs you could make them scrambled as I do or an omelet as Sarah would make hers. Salt and pepper to taste. And here is the real key from a French woman who learned from her mother when the eggs are done, add just a drop more butter to melt over them. Heaven in the morning.

As a side note, last year when I was in Morocco they made me eggs with garlic and fresh herbs, also a form of heaven in the morning.

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06 2013