Thursday, November 19, 2009


The theme of the recent issue of the New Yorker is 'food' - a topic I know little about, being a penny-pinching, congenitally hypertensive shomer-kashrut consumer. This eliminates many food options that most of the world lusts over (pigs, alcohol, fat, sugar, shelled-seafood). But I truly love food (see my anguished posts about fasting to see the transposition of this obsession).

Anyhoo, Anthony Lane (one of my favorite NYer writers) deals with the versatility of eggs for those hungry people who can't cook but who need a quick meal (Improvisations: Eggs"). An example of egg necessity, described by Lane:
"... oeufs en meurette, a recipe where eggs are poached with onion, carrot, mushrooms, bacon and a half bottle of red wine. It is a classic ad-libber’s meal, in that, even when it goes right it looks like something that has gone terribly wrong."
I know the truth of which he speaks not from this random disquieting French recipe but from my encounters with Shakshuka (pictured above).

I confronted Shakshuka often during my years in yeshiva in Israel. Do let the appearance fool you - it was often as disgusting as it looked. As far as I could tell, the de-factor recipe was fried eggs with tomatoes. Sounds fine, no? Yet, as Lane says, "when it goes right it looks like something that has gone terribly wrong."

In my first year in yeshiva, when this was often on the dinner menu, it seemed to come direct from the cruel soul of the kitchen-capo, a youthful Sabra named "Shachar." His name literally means "dawn" - which should be pleasant, even pretty - but the combined phonemes just sounded like a spat curse. Much as shakshuka looked like it.

See here for a recipe (it's also where the picture is from).


shanna said...

Good, spicy, thick-sauced shakshuka - especially with fresh laffah or pita - is awesomeness in a pan.

JC said...

Indeed - shakshuka *should* be a delicious dish (two great tastes, taste great together), but it just looks mistaken on a plate.

And, you just made me hungry...

Anonymous said...

Just had this stuff in Tel Aviv. Wanted to be polite and eat it all as Israelis recommended is as they were eating it themselves. Disgusting and I haven't eaten the rest of the day. Probably will skip eating tomorrow as well. Unless I can find some good schwarma. ;) Where do they come up with these names?