• Ode to the fried egg and a recipe of 5 paintings

    Lately I´m being chased by eggs. Suddenly they appear on a mural painting in a small village in Cuenca, or on a painting in a bar along the Galician coast, or in an art gallery next to a Dutch canal.

    The chase is not only by images, but also by praised eggs in writing, such as in weekly newspaper magazines or in books from the great Vázquez Montalbán. No complaints, though.

    In his novel Erec y Enide Montalbán includes this beautiful passage:

    “…let the eggs slide into the pan to curl up and turn into lace with a golden peak. Eating fried eggs is like experiencing a triple sensory delight, of smell, taste and slicing of the soft and crisp textures with a knife, the pouring of the yellow and essential honey, the dish turned into a palette, a palette proposal.”

    So, what do you think? Hold on tight, because here comes the ode to some eggs from Cuenca, published in the latest gastronomic edition of El País Semanal.

    “The essence of a naked fried egg. La Ponderosa, Cuenca.

    A bar, nothing else. No bar stools to sit on. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to forget that trip to the essences at La Ponderosa in Cuenca. Even among the mushrooms, the tomatoes, the sweetbreads, the partridge served to the Royal Family – everything brought to the sophisticated art of simplicity– what stands out are their masterly fried eggs. Not only because of the product and the good care of their own chickens, but because of the touch of vinagre that makes them unique.”

    Their masterly simplicity, I couldn’t agree more. What a treat!

    Not just eggs, but chased by fried eggs. Fried! You will understand I had no choice but to prepare some for dinner. And dip in some bread like crazy.

    But here’s the thing. How do you prepare those memorable eggs? The ones you don’t seem to forget about and that make you sigh every time they come to your memory.

    To help us out I have prepared a special kind of manual. It’s a visual guideline along the painted eggs I mentioned at the beginning, and which I have turned into an artistic recipe:

    The Alarcón one

    Jesús Mateo, Alarcón mural (detail), 2002.

    Find the best possible eggs. They can appear anywhere, even in a church turned into a enormous mural painting.

    This great yolk can be found in the church of Saint John the Baptist. Jesús Mateos has covered the interior walls with this own interpretation of the universe. An overwhelming space that leaves you amazed.

    The sunbathing one

    Maralla Paz, Sunbathing eggs

    Crack the egg onto a little plate, this will help us add it to the pan and avoid any piece of shell sneaking in.

    A work by the Galician painters Maralla Paz. This work, amongst others, can be found in the bar, restaurant and hostel Balieiros, where she also has a little studio set up. Not only will the surroundings and the views, which play and important part in her works, captivate you, their friendly atmosphere and excellent kitchen will convince you to keep visiting.

    The famous one

    Diego Velázquez, An old woman cooking eggs, 1618. Scottish National Gallery. Purchased with the aid of the Art Fund and a Treasury Grant 1955.

    Add oil to the pan and heat it up. Half an inch should be fine. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the egg to the pan. I’m sorry, Velázquez, but I can’t hear these eggs sizzle, the oil is not hot enough.

    Nevertheless, the eggs by the Sevillian painter have to be included into this recipe. We’re talking about Velázquez´s eggs! Well, and because of the brilliant textures of all the objects and how he uses the light to bring out their features.

    The one with the lace

    Matías Montoya, Fried egg. Trino Tortosa Gallery

    Fry the egg covering the upper part with some oil to curdle the egg white. Let it curl up as much as you like and cook the yolk as desired.

    This egg, with its almost running yolk, is from a painter from Almería: Matías Montoya. Don’t miss out on his other realistic paintings: a ham sandwich and a ready to eat hamburger, they will make your mouth water.

    The hyperrealistic one

    Tjalf Sparnaay, Fried egg, 2007.

    If you prefer you can fry the egg with less oil, almost grilling it like this one, a tipical Dutch egg. Not as juicy, but with a great crunchy bite.

    This Dutch artist, Tsjalf Sparnaay, is specialized in making food paintings and has turned the fried egg into his star dish on canvas. During the last few decades he has made several different versions of the fried egg, big and small. Currently the museum Jan in The Netherlands is hosting a solo exhibition of his tasty works.

    And to finish off the recipe, serve the egg on a plate, add some salt and a few drops of vinegar to taste. Ready to dip in some bread.

    Well, what are you waiting for?

    And remember, a couple of eggs in you pantry or on a canvas always come in handy.