- Food & Drink
A favourite pastime when I was growing up was driving around the new estates erupting like boils along the A3 and touring the show homes. Boxy Tardises in pastel brick, the houses had always been fitted out by someone with a fondness for chandeliers and striped satin. My parents, carrying a folder of photos and statistics, would wander around the rooms with their heads on one side and a considering look on their faces.
My sisters and I would trail around after them, our feet shushed by thick carpets. As the eldest, and attempting to show how grown up I was, I’d also tilt my head, squint and then boldly mumble that the marble effect wallpaper was nice. I’d gently press my fingers into the beds to see how bouncy the mattresses were and tug on the thick rope ties that held the curtains in swags. It was years before I realised that, when you bought a house, you didn’t get all the furniture with it.
Having moved home several times in the past couple of years, I’ve often thought how much better life would be if you could rent or buy homes equipped with everything you need. Chairs, tables, beds, sheets, pots, pans, cutlery, clothes, shoes – everything. I’d like to shed one neighbourhood and move into a new one, unfettered and unblemished. Start afresh with socks I’ve never worn before and flannels I’ve yet to scrub with.
An excellent breakfast table
Sadly, no one wants to do my homewares shopping for me. But this week I have the next best thing: I’m flat-sitting for friends. For a week I can wear their life like a muumuu, snuggling into their sofa and rifling through the kitchen cupboards. But like a pig snuffling for truffles, I’ve spent most of my time by the bookshelves hunting for cookbooks and murder mysteries (my twin literary obsessions).
1 of the first books I picked up was The Breakfast Bible by Seb Emina & Malcolm Eggs. A book that languorously mooches through the morning meal, I read it looking for a new breakfast that would fit my novel flat-sitting life. Persian eggs with halloumi, a squeaky mess of fried cheese and slippery albumen, appealed. I didn’t have any halloumi in my recently acquired fancy fridge, but I had just been gifted a chunk of queso fresco (I know, I know. I’m a foodie dick).
The first morning I tried it, I followed the recipe, switching in queso fresco for halloumi and turmeric for sumac. It was nice, but it was also missing something. A lazy afternoon of snoozing and musing lead me to 1 conclusion: what it needed was hot avocado.
Hot avocado is a controversial topic. Considered a perversion by many, there are some who’d rather I came out as a spokeswoman for coprophiliacs’ rights than press hot avocado on the world. In fact, I imagine (underlining imagine here), that there is a certain textural similarity between the 2 deviant eating habits. Cooked avocado has a squishy velvetiness that hints at unspeakable, private things. In this breakfast, it sits in a web of plasticky cheese with lumps of fleshy tomato and a silken pool of egg yolk. A combination of textures that isn’t for the easily flustered.
A frying pan breakfast
2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
A thick slice of queso fresco or halloumi
1/2 avocado, stoned, peeled and chopped
1 medium egg
Turmeric and paprika
1 Pour a good amount of olive oil into a medium frying pan to cover the base. Warm over a medium heat and add the tomatoes, cheese and avocado. Season with black pepper and fry stirring frequently for 5–8 minutes. The cheese, if it’s queso fresco, will melt and become stringy. Keep scraping and stirring the pan. A crust will form underneath and you want to mash that through everything in the pan.
2 Once a good crust has formed, crack the egg into the pan. Sprinkle with plenty of turmeric and paprika. Turn the heat down a little and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the egg white is set but the yolk is still liquid. Gently slide the whole mess onto a warm plate – the queso fresco will have formed a cheese web that knits it all together; it may be a bit more tricky with halloumi as it won’t melt the same way. Serve immediately.