Any sort of breakfast is considered a luxury in the midst of final deadline week, so you can imagine my initial reservations and feelings of preemptive guilt when my flatmate spontaneously suggested a belated birthday brunch one morning.
From hardly having time to grab a bruised banana for the convoluted commute to the printers’ hellhole to hardly having time for waking up slowly and preparing a hearty breakfast spread of Andalusia-style baked eggs alongside the best company in South London (but doing it anyway and enjoying it thoroughly)—how is that transition mentally justifiable? Perhaps it doesn’t need to be.
The project will be handed in on time, no matter how hectic the final scramble is. The letters will be kerned, ink will be dried, the threads will be tied. My militantly academic middle and high school years have drilled this routine into my very soul, for better or for worse; I’d like to think that those sleepless nights poring over bibliographies, cramming formulae into my brain, and rapidly digesting textbook chapters have pre-afforded me this “irresponsibly” indulgent brunch, and many more to come.
With each passing year spent tip-toeing beyond that consuming abyss of academia, I realise that we—as human beings—hold a higher (and oftentimes more challenging) responsibility to appreciate the fleeting delights that life offers on a daily basis, simple blessings that can easily go unappreciated when pledging allegiance to scholastic duties and societal expectations. It sounds endlessly trite, but it’s really just another way of saying: “Give yourself a break. Life is too short to not make these eggs. Consider some freshly squeezed orange juice, as well.”
We should all take a leaf out of the Mediterranean book when it comes to this mindset…they have it all figured out with their siestas and tapas. The Andalusian region of southern Spain is known for its flamenco dancing and flamenco eggs—it was beautiful in the summer of 2010, when I passed through Sevilla and Granada. That summer trip marked my first bold step out of the aforementioned academic abyss, and the days brimmed over with hedonistically lackadaisical lack of commitments; to prove my point, it was one of the best and most rewarding months of my life.
The presentation of huevos a la flamenca is similar to shakshuka: impressive, but with surprisingly easy preparation (perfect for having last-minute company or, say, a looming deadline), especially with this option to finish on the stovetop instead of transferring into an oven. As with most ubiquitous traditional dishes, ingredients and add-ins vary widely by region and household. Aside from the sofrito base and stewed tomatoes, consider a handful of peas and asparagus tips during springtime or spicy chorizo for a spicy kickstart to the day.
Huevos a la Flamenca
- 2 T olive oil
- 80g chorizo (optional)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- handful fresh peas (optional)
- asparagus spears (optional)
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1 T smoked paprika
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 5 organic eggs
- fresh bread, toasted
If using chorizo, fry this until oil is released before adding the onion, pepper, and garlic. Continue sautéing this sofrito until fragrant and the onions softened. Add in chopped tomatoes and remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid is reduced. Season to taste.
Either or finish on the stove by making wells in the sofrito, cracking in the eggs, and covering with a sheet of foil to steam OR separate into ramekins and bake in a 350ºF/180ºC oven for 10-15 minutes, until egg whites are set but yolks still slightly runny.
Serve straight away with a garnish of fresh parsley or coriander and ground black pepper over a slice of toasted bread.