My headline is borrowed from the title of Elizabeth David's book, a collection of brilliant articles. Those few words signify, for many of us, France, and its way of life.
An omelette is the most adaptable of dishes. A fat cushion of eggs oozing buttery juices, freckled with the bright green of fines herbes, or a flat, open, cold omelette perfect for picnics, both are quick to make and yet delicious.When the harvest weather is hot, as it is likely be, for instance, in the Rhone valley, it is the latter version that comes into its own, as in Katerina Kalogeraki's photograph above.
The further north the vineyard, the more likely it is that pickers will need hot food. Pickers in the chalky fields of the Champagne region can be working under cloudy skies. In a high-ceilinged old dining room at Ay, with a wood burning stove to warm the 90 assembled pickers, I watched as the kitchen prepared to send out omelettes. 16-20 eggs were whisked in bowls for each table of eight. One woman beat the eggs, another made the omelettes in large cast-iron pans, another rushed them to the tables. They stood by to make more if anyone was still hungry. There was plenty of bread and big bowls of green salad. With 600 pickers to feed during the harvest at Louis Roederer in Champagne, meals are organised with military precision. Seven harvest kitchens are run, based in vineyard properties spread throughout the best villages . Provisions are ordered centrally and delivered daily, with each of the cooks phoning in her requirements. It's impressive!
Here is the very flexible recipe for a cold omelette with parsley and potatoes. In fact it isn't really a recipe at all, just a method: you take fresh eggs, the number depending on how many you are at table, add salt & pepper before beating lightly. Add chopped herbs if you wish, in this case lots of parsley. If you are short of eggs,use more potatoes, it will still work. Potatoes may be peeled or not as you prefer. Dice them and brown them in olive oil until soft. (Left-over boiled potatoes could be used up as long as they are not mushy). Tip the eggs into the frying-pan of potatoes and continue as for an ordinary omelette.
At the point when it would normally be served, this omelette must be turned, using a spatula, or if you’re brave, flipped like a pancake, and cooked for a few more minutes. If neither of these methods appeal, you could put your pan under a hot grill for a few minutes instead of turning it. Leave to cool.