Ours is a two-frypan family. (I use the term "family" loosely: we are me, my co-chef and co-writer, Chris, and Harry the dog. And Harry really isn't into frypan issues except at clean-up time).
We require separate pans because we simply don't agree on how things should be cooked. I like my bacon crisp, very crisp.
Chris likes his soft and floppy. He likes to fry tomatoes. I don't. But the crucial divide surfaces at omelette time. We approach this operation very differently so there is no way that we can ever cook one omelette for the two of us to share. We have to go our separate ways.
My co-chef favours elegant simplicity. I'm into shameless excess, inclined to stuff an omelette with just about anything edible and within reach like diced cooked potato, slivers of ham, crispy bacon bits, asparagus, whatever. And I really like to load up on cheese, love it when it melts with the heat and goes all limp and runny. This is an intolerable intrusion in Chris's opinion. We could never, ever share an omelette that's been sullied with gooey cheese.
And I consider his "no-frills" approach to be dreary in the extreme. So you can see what we're up against.
Another point of dissension on the omelette front is methodology: the high-heat/toss-and-swirl method versus the gently-gently approach. Chris can produce a perfectly cooked, perfectly rolled golden-all-over omelette in less than a minute. He achieves this in the manner recommended by pros like James Beard and Julia Child over a blistering hot burner with a few deft dips and tosses of the fry pan until it (the omelette) is tipped and neatly flipped onto a warm plate. Never mind that it is seriously lacking in enhancements. It looks exquisite, like the product of a high-end Michelin-starred kitchen.
I, on the other hand, am rather timid around a blazing-hot burner. I prefer the tiptoe approach. Not too hot, not too fast, and none of this rapid-fire tossing and swirling for me. I poke and prod and proceed with extreme caution, ending up with something resembling what Julia Child calls a "scrambled omelette." It lacks Ã©lan, I admit, but stuffed as it is with every food group known to the culinary world, it makes for a fine and hearty meal. And I don't have to share.
I think the situation is clear: I cannot, will not, subject myself (or my frypan) to the sort of reckless derring-do advocated by my husband and his pals, the pros. And I really don't see the point in sitting down to a naked omelette. Chris cannot tolerate a fully stuffed, timidly executed, cheese engorged facsimile thereof.
We are therefore destined to remain the two-frypan family we have become. We share lots of other pleasures, though: feisty red wines, cryptic crosswords, Alan Furst's books, roast chicken, velvety gravy and triple-cream cheese. I can only hope this proves to be adequate compensation for the glaring rift in our shared kitchen.
I'd appreciate it if you'd not blab about our frypan issues to all and sundry. And, having said that, I'd like to hear from you on the subject of "kitchen conflicts." Do you have similar differences in your family? How do you deal with them? I'm not going to promise not to blab. In fact, I plan to make the stories you send me the subject of a future column. It will all be treated with the utmost discretion and no names will be mentioned. Are you game?
I will take my leave now and go make a stew while Chris's back is turned. (I don't measure anything and no recipe book will be consulted, more behaviour that is guaranteed to drive my co-chef crazy and put our marriage on war footing.)
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