Saturday, December 15, 2007

spaghetti pie

this blog entry is dedicated to any of my long-suffering friends and family who have ever had to bear my soliloquy of praise as I waxed lyrical about one of my favourite comfort foods (or worse, had the dubious duty of eating it). and to george, whom I miss terribly. i give you – spaghetti pie revisted.

spaghetti pie - born from the thought that if I simply combined all the things I loved in a single divine plate of ultimate comfort and pleasure – something good must come out of it. and so from the depths of eggs, bacon, cheese, spinach and spaghetti, I made spaghetti pie, which was essentially a giant omelette made out of the above mentioned ingredients. the first time i made this was the winter of the year spent in Chicago – I was particularly in need of comfort – for amongst the other trials of spending a winter in Chicago, I had my first experience of having to shovel my car out from under a drift of snow, the difficulty of which was compounded exponentially by the fact that I was using plastic shovel from k-mart and also because i grew up in the tropics where snow was more a romantic notion rather than an unpleasant reality to battle with.

I made this with worrying frequency in that year (it was a difficult year, and spaghetti pie was justified only in absolutely dire situations for comfort especially I had absolutely no intention of dying from cholesterol induced heart disease even in my lowest periods). I tweaked it each time I made it, finding out through trial and error that two eggs and 80g of regular spaghetti gave the best noodle to egg ratio, it was best if I drained the chopped spinach well before beating it into the eggs, panfried slices of bratwurst worked really well in place of bacon, gruyere was the optimum melty cheese, using two spatulas was the best way of flipping the entire omelette and keeping a round shape, and that it was best cut into 8 wedges and eaten with a fork.

not many have shared my optimism for spaghetti pie. some have even given me grief about it. I was for the longest time left thinking spaghetti pie was probably one of those secret pleasures best enjoyed alone. that was until I went backpacking in japan and discovered okonomiyaki. for in the food hall of a departmental store in Hiroshima, me and my fellow travelers, s and jk sat at a counter ordering what looked to me to be exactly like spaghetti pie – Hiroshima style okonomiyaki.

okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) literally means “cooked what you like, the way you like it” and is a giant pancake of egg-based batter with a myriad of toppings including shredded cabbage, seafood, cheese, bacon, pork, mochi. the toppings, batter and mode of cooking okonomiyaki vary regionally within japan, the two most famous variants coming from Osaka and Hiroshima. the Hiroshima version of Okonomiyaki involves cooking in layers, and usually involves a layer of yakisoba – or fried egg noodles.

having not made spaghetti pie in ages and wanting to clean out my fridge before I left on holiday – I reckoned it was the perfect excuse to make a version of spaghetti pie/okonomiyaki. curiously enough, I had half a bag of fresh spaghetti, a couple of free-range eggs, shredded greens and seafood mix. how rather convenient. in keeping with okonomiyaki tradition, I finished the dish off with Japanese mayonnaise and a sprinkling of bonito flakes. George had largely left me in peace to make this while he pondered the prawn I let him have from the seafood mix. he did however come to see what the fuss was about when to his horror the bonito flakes started moving in response to the heat of the pan. the look on his face was quite priceless.

I wondered as I finished the last wedge why I hadn’t made spaghetti pie/okonomiyaki in ages – it was delicious. perhaps it was the increased awareness of the wisdom of keeping cholesterol levels in check. perhaps it was because I had lost one spatula. perhaps it was because I’ve realized that while food is comforting and a delight, a bout of emotionally binging will only leave you bloated, suffering indigestion and is at the very best a somewhat temporary emotional stop-gap. I now know that seeking your comfort in a real, permanent and faithful God is much better solution.

even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me – psalm 23:4”. also, seeking y our comfort in God won’t give you indigestion.

p.s.: if you haven’t yet bid on Menu for Hope – there’s still time! loads of brilliant food prizes to be won – check out the post below.


Anonymous LL said...

I vaguely recall having had the priveledge of trying the unadulterated spag pie! But okonomiyaki -spag pie sounds too good to be true! im sure my blood vessels beg to differ

8:59 AM  

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