candle-cooked scrambles

Apr 29, 2013

Let me tell you a story about quail eggs and candles, evidently a likely combination in my life.   When I was growing up, I had a playhouse in my backyard that my dad had built for me.  It had a picket fence, with a front yard/garden that I tended to like it was my child.  I called it the "farm house."  I think I spent most of my free time in this house, hanging out, gardening, later on kissing people (oh those vague memories), and cooking.  YUP, I cooked in the farmhouse.  You are probably wondering how a small child in a mini wooden farmhouse managed to cook, with fire, without burning down the house (I wasn't any older than 10).

Next to the farmhouse we had a chicken coop where we raised quails.  I used to steal the quail eggs- nevermind if they were edible or what- and scramble them in my little house with.....a lamp shaped metal candle holder, of course!  I had this mini cast iron skillet that was the size of my palm that I had purchased at some antiquey store in Jameson, in California-  (the obscure mountain town I was obsessed with that had one store: antiques, and one restaurant: fondue).  I would place the pan on top of the candle lamp until the pan was hot enough to cook the egg.  And then I scrambled away.   In my eyes I was a genius, and I was so surprised when no one wanted to eat my delicious eggs!  My poor family...I wonder if they ever tried them; oddly enough, I have no memory of ever taking a bite myself.

So, in honor of quail eggs, mini farmhouses and candle cooked scrambles, I purchased an absurdly cute pack of quail eggs, and made them in every way possible this week- scrambled, hard boiled, poached; I ate them on manna bread with marinated mackerel, fried with avocado over sweet potatoes....endless yum; now I need an egg hiatus. 

This story comes in 2 parts, of course.  Quite fatefully, I learned that my gravitational pull towards quail eggs is genetic, stemming from my grandmother.  A little background: my grandmother and I share some strange food related habits, one being that we like to save leftovers, never mind if there are only two bites left. Leftovers are leftovers.  Anyways... how I learned I was genetically inclined to quail eggs:  I went to dinner with my mother's boyfriend Javier and told him about my quail week, and how I was about to post a new story I wrote about them.  Javier got SO excited when I told him- he is awesome and shares my mother's giggly personality and enthusiasm for life; "YOU KNOW WHO HAD A QUAIL EGG BUSINESS BACK IN THE DAY, DON'T YOU?!" he asked me.  UUUM, no.  ?!?  Much to my surprise it was my very own grandmother in the 1950's! SHE SOLD QUAIL EGGS.  HELLOOO?! Cosmos again.  Naturally.  She had a farm where she raised them, and she would deliver them to restaurants and homes all over Buenos Aires; gourmet quail eggs, a delicatessen.  Apparently she wanted to have her own business, and this was her solution.  I cannot believe a) that I never knew this, and b) that it ever even happened to begin with!

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