Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Eggless Omelets.

I promise, for those of you already getting nervous, this is not about tofu. It is not about vegan alternatives either, for even an eggless omelette is the better for being cooked in bacon fat, as you will see.

That there is such a thing as an eggless omelette is testament to human creativity, or the power of nostalgia, or both, is it not?  If you go back far enough, the obviously French word omelette came from aumelette, and indicated a ‘flat thin plate’ such as the blade of a sword or knife – so the same origin as ‘laminate’ and ‘lamina’. Although most recipes for amlets or amulets do contain eggs, I don’t know that these were obligatory (please correct me if I am wrong) – the word could just as well have included fritters or flat breads, or pancakes without eggs;

I give you a little selection of stories, with recipes, on ‘eggless omelettes’ from the last hundred years or so.

From Le Mars Globe [Iowa, ]April 28 1909, we have a story about Paris in 1871

“Amid the horrors of the siege of Paris in 1871, one Cadol found time to issue a book of recipes for the preparation of the strange fare to which the city was reduced. “Our stomachs are turned into natural history museums” he wrote, “but we must make the best of circumstances and render our food as palatable as we can.” So housewives were instructed how to disguise the flesh of dogs, horses, asses, rats and mice, and were shown that, despite the old adage, one can make an omelette without breaking eggs. The recipe for an eggless omelette was as follows: “Soak an army biscuit in sugared water flavoured with orange flower, chop finely and spread on a hot dish, powder well with sugar, and then pour over and set alight to a liberal helping of rum.” With eggs at $6 a dozen, and rum at little more than its normal price, this palatable imitation of an “omelette au rhum” became a most popular dish.”

From the Edwardsville Intelligencer (Illinois) of June 21, 1927 we have a recipe that could have been a worthy inclusion in a previous post ‘Nine Things to do withPorridge.’

Eggless Omelet.
This omelette is made of oatmeal, onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Cook one chopped onion and one chopped carrot in two level tablespoons of bacon fat or beef drippings until brown. Then put in one boiled potato, cut into small pieces and when thoroughly blended with the hot fat, stir in two cups of cooked oatmeal, and fry till brown on one side. Fold over like an omelette, pour a little hot tomato sauce or catsup sauce around it and serve. Trim with small carrots cooked whole and sprigs of parsley.

And here is another story about wartime ingenuity, from the Waterloo Daily Courier, of November 19, 1943

Paris Makes Omelet Without Eggs.
Just in case our food shortages have given you the idea that times are getting tough in America's kitchens, you might consider what the housewife of Paris and other French cities is up against. For France, once the gourmet's paradise, the home of pate de foie gras, of bouillabaisse and crepe suzettes, is hungry. Three years of feeding fat Nazi officers and would-be fat German civilians have reduced French families to a "slow famine" diet.
Newspapers and magazines devote a great deal of space to food hints, but they are all of the "how to make bricks without straw" variety.
The most recent tell how to make "omelet without eggs'(vegetables cooked in water, thrown into a frying pan with a speck of fat and then a batter of flour and water poured over all); "vegetable- roast without meat" (the vegetables are given the taste of meat by the addition of bouillon cubes); or "risotto without rice" (noodles passed thru a mincer to which are added onions cooked in water and tomato puree, all tossed up in a minimum amount of margarine.

Quotation for the Day

You cant make an omelette without breaking eggs.
[attributed to many people!]

1 comment:

Pipedreams said...

After you've had so much rum, you can find anything palatable, I guess. I, for one, would rather have my "liberal helping of" rum straight, and dispense with the supererogatory formalities of dirtying a pan, a plate and assorted cutlery.

Among the other recipes, the one I find ingenious and quite possibly edible is that of the rice-less risotto.