Saturday, July 03, 2004

A Cornucopia

The first time I ever ate an egg sandwich was somewhere in the middle of Delaware in March or April of 1997. Melanie and I were driving from her mom's house in Maryland to our house in upstate New York. The kids were asleep in their car chairs in the back seat and she pulled off the highway to stop at a little deli/convenience store/news stand type of place with a sign for egg sandwiches. The kind of store that you can only find on the east coast as far as I know.

I was dubious, as I only really liked my eggs scrambled and particularly disliked them fried. Runny yokes were my enemy. But I was hungry and Mel swore that a fried egg and cheese sandwich was the best food on earth, so I tried one. I think I only ate about half of that first one, and found it to be all right.

Fast forward to fall of 1999. Will and I have moved to New York and I'm working for Melanie again, taking care of Radha and Everett as well as her youngest, David. One day we stop at Cornucopia, a store down the street from Mel's house, for some food. They have egg sandwiches, which I admit I have thought about from time to time. Will has never had one, though I'm sure as a kid he ate a Toad-in-the-Hole or two. We each order one.

Heaven. They cook the eggs just right, in little frying pans over individual burners behind the deli counter. You can have sausage or bacon on your sandwich if you like. I'm sure Will had one or the other. They use white American cheese, which is awfully hard to find in the grocery store but does exist and is very good.

Melanie lived in Red Hook, but we lived about half an hour away in the absolute middle of nowhere, a town called Hillsdale. It's a long story that I might tell someday why we lived all the way out there, but our place was really nice. The second floor of a converted farmhouse, non-euclidean angles and creaky floorboards included free-of-charge. It was a short drive to Hudson or to Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where there was (respectively) a great camera store that we never visited due to lack of funds and a great Japanese restaurant that we infrequently visited for the same reason. The drive to Mel's took us down route 7 past many, many farms and a few cornfields and at least one apple orchard (where we went and picked a bucket of apples for $5 from which I made many delicious pies). The town nearest the orchard was a tiny place with barely anything town-like except for an old, beautiful Opera House with a 'For Sale' sign on it. Will and I dreamed of buying it and living in the shack next to it (fixed up, of course) and showing old movies for a dollar for anyone who wanted to come by. Of course, we never did that. Across the street from the theater was an old gas station that one day got fixed up into a little store that sold coffee and newspapers and egg sandwiches. It was about a third of the way from our place to Melanie's, and I started stopping there almost every morning for an egg sandwich (though I usually brought my own coffee). I didn't think it possible, but theirs were the best egg sandwiches on earth. They, too, used white American cheese, and except for the one time that the girl put ketchup on my sandwich (salt & pepper only, please) my breakfasts were perfect.

We eventually moved away from that farmhouse and lost the easily accessible egg sandwiches. When we were living apart, my roommate Yojo and I used to make them in the afternoons to eat while playing Canasta (we called it Conniption) or double solitaire. We really made Toad-in-the-Holes, but we called them egg sandwiches. We used multi-grain bread instead of white rolls with poppy seeds, but the sandwiches were very good. Occasionally we also would just fry bread and spread cilantro chutney on it.

In the past year or so I've started making egg sandwiches for Will and myself. I use potato hamburger buns and organic eggs and usually American cheese slices (the yellow sort, unfortunately).

Today was a deceptively long day. Meghan and Mark brought Miki and Penny over last night and much beer was consumed (only a small amount of it by the dogs). Poor Will slammed his finger in the door of the trash cute and woke up at 6:00 this morning in a fair bit of pain. I awoke shortly after 9:00 and convinced him to come back to bed, where he slept until about 11:30. A few cups of coffee later, he helped me carry some laundry downstairs. Then we prepared lunch which we shared with Geoff while talking about movies. I seasoned an enormous top sirloin steak which the boys split after Will seared it on the grill. He also roasted corn on the cob, and I made mashed potatoes and a salad. After we ate we enjoyed a glass of fine bourbon that Geoff had brought over. There was a few more hours of conversation (I did finish and fetch the laundry, lest anyone worry) before Geoff left and Will and I sat around, feeling fat and trying to decide what to do with our evening. Will was amiable to the idea of writing up a new (the first in two years!) Grumpy Critic, Angry Cook review, and put in The Last Man on Earth. I came upstairs and wrote my previous entry. When I checked on Will a short while later he'd fallen fast asleep on the couch. I covered him (there was a cool breeze) and left him be until he woke up around 8:30. I asked if he was hungry, which he was. I offered cheese and salami but he made a face, so I suggested an egg sandwich.

I used the organic Colby cheese I'd bought at Whole Foods yesterday. I put away the laundry from earlier while he ate, and he came in to tell me that it was the Best Egg Sandwich Ever. He has come upstairs twice while I wrote this entry to tell me the same thing.