The Scrambler

There are lots of blogs out there, and I’ve also seen youtube channels, where people put up artsy photos of meals they create. Their recipes. Things that look appetizing, must smell pleasing, and, I would imagine, must dance across your palate. I know a number of people who really enjoy cooking, can create quite pleasant meals, and have fun with the creative process of making something nice. and while I appreciate these means of expression through creativity, I’m afraid it’s escaped me. I never know where to begin.

As I am again living solo, I find myself once more in the position where I must prepare my own meals. I quite like being a traveler and not having a kitchen, because then I have a good excuse to not cook, and I can just eat street kebabs all the time. But no, I must cook my own meals and try to save my precious funds. A diet of kebabs and mussels runs up quite the tab! In line with all those artsy blogs and videos, I thought it would be fitting to share my own recipe.

Example of food that I didn’t make.

The process starts on the way home from wherever I am, and I realize that I don’t have food in the fridge and that I need sustenance. Hmm, I’ll have to stop at the grocery. What should I eat tonight? I then rack my brain for things I know how to make. Noodles and sauce? Potatoes and ground beef? Noodles and ground beef? Hmm, no, let’s try something different this time around. I’ve stepped things up from when I was in Prague and had meals of rice, olive oil, and beer. So I start thinking of some of those nice meals that others have prepared for me at some previous stage, and what could have been in them. Well, there was probably some onion in there, and garlic too. I like those, I’ll throw them in. Probably had some green or red pepper in there too. Then I start thinking about various things people have told me I should be eating. Well, I’m always told I should be eating leafy greens. I had a nice salad that one time, what was in it? Probably spinach. I’ll get some of that. I need a carbohydrate of some sort, too. Might as well boil some potatoes.

Fully loaded up with the essentials for what will be a most satisfying meal, I walk out of the shop, and must now face the crowds on Istiklal avenue. Even without carrying grocery bags, I’m always bumping shoulders with people the whole way down the street. It brings me back to the days of bike racing, of the last five laps of a criterium, when you have to be physical to maintain position, and you’re always on high alert about everything that’s going on around you, always looking for a gap between people. I normally race through the crowds, often imagining race car noises as I cut through a gap or successfully avoid a traffic jam. This is not the case when laden down with groceries, however! I try to cut through the gaps, turn my shoulders sideways, or go through tight maneuvers, but with groceries at my sides, this often means that they get hung up on the traffic I’m weaving my way through. Bags hitting people’s legs and swinging wildly, throwing my shoulders off. Not being able to fit through gaps I normally could… I have to be very careful about what times I go to the store if I’m bringing eggs home with me.

Up my stairs, grocery bags strewn along the floor from doorway to stove, I’m all set to bust out my culinary skills. Let’s see, first things first. Heat water for boiling potato. That takes the longest. Step two, chop vegetables. Put a bunch of olive oil in the fry pan and keep adding more vegetables as I chop them. Inspect the fridge to see what other vegetables are in there to chop and add to the fry pan. The frying pan will often look like this at this point:

A bunch of olive oil

1 onion

a red pepper or two

maybe a green pepper or some other sort of pepper

spinach if I remembered to buy it

other things I find in the fridge

4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed (a good fistful – must prevent myself from getting sick) – add later to the frying process

If I’ve managed to chop this many vegetables and throw them into the fry pan, at some point I should remember to check the potatoes, as I’ve forgotten about them until this point, and they’re probably done. Put them on the plate and smash them up with a fork and sprinkle salt on it. Return attention to the fry pan while the potato cools. I’ve forgotten protein, and didn’t buy meat! Quickly beat a few eggs, and throw them on top. More olive oil.

Now it’s time to add spices so it’s not too bland. A pinch or two of oregano, some thyme, paprika, coriander, and maybe a few other things in that little spice set procured in the spice bazaar that I’ve heard other people talk about using in food. Scoop contents of frying pan over the potatoes, and mix it up real good. Damn! I forgot the tomato! No matter, it’s too hot now anyway, and needs to cool. Chop up a tomato and throw it on top too.

At this point, I usually realize that while I had no clear picture of what I was really making, it’s somehow turned out more or less the same way that all my other meals turn out, and nothing at all like any nice meal others have prepared for me. A bunch of things thrown in the fry pan, scooped out over some potatoes or noodles.

The Scrambler.

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