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Monday 6th June, 2011.

Eggs is Eggs

We’ve been given a 1946 Bush valve radio. The colour of chestnuts it speaks in warm hollow tones like Cleo Laine. A thing of such beauty and ambience has to live in the kitchen. I am transported to another time when I’m near it, a form of travel at least. 

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”.  (L.P Hartley 1953)

I wonder who our radio belonged to when it was state of the art? What news was transmitted?  I found a few headlines from 1946.  A man was hanged for treason in the U.K. The first V.E celebration marked the end of the entire war, and the Ministry of Food circulated a recipe for Squirrel Pie as rationing continued. Mmm might try that one! 

It’s a dinosaur now and most of the time tuned to Radio 4 longwave, as it can’t pick up anything else that well. Sometimes though I will scratch around for another station and I’m always thrilled to find a crackly French gabble sweet talk its way into my kitchen. 

I lived in France for a while and some days miss being a foreigner. My rough grasp of the French language gave me a quiet feeling of anonymity, vague, dreamlike. French washing up liquid is different from ours. It smells of almond, olive, magnolia, lending an authentic European air to my kitchen there. Mundane things like this made being abroad always feel abroad every moment of everyday I lived there. Ironically that feeling of foreignness is the reason I feel most homesick for France now I’m back in Britain.

So some days I tune the radio into France and pretend I’m back in our cold 19th century French kitchen listening to the constant trill of cicadas through the open door while I cook. Today is one of those days and when in France I say cook, well er, Moroccan actually. I didn’t take many cookery books with me when we moved away; we didn’t know how long we were to stay. One book I did take was Casa Moro: The Second Cookbook (Sam and Sam Clark, Ebury Press). Chris had bought me a copy just before we left and in the upheaval I had barely opened it. In the French sticks, without TV, Internet, or even phone, for a while I had plenty of time to explore the recipes. 

The first person we met in France was a distant neighbour Pierre Olivier who had chickens, ducks and rabbits. Very romantic: French farmer living off the fat of the land. Except it turned out he was a property tycoon from Paris. We were often left holding the fort while he went to look after his empire in the big city. Anyway as payment we got to keep whatever was laid, so it kept us in eggs. This recipe became a bit of a staple. I don’t remember the exact recipe, I sometimes add spinach or chard because we were growing it at the time, but the original recipe was made simply using tomatoes like this one. This is how I make it. Bon Appetit. 


Ingredients for Moroccan eggs with cumin.

A good glug of olive oil 
1 onion, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed with salt (this makes it really garlicky so use less if you prefer)
1 crumbled dried red chilli (or however much you like)
1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds (plus a little extra for garnish)
2 tins of plum tomatoes (drained of the juice) or 6 fresh peeled tomatoes (if you can get ripe, juicy fresh ones)
4 eggs
Parsley (for garnish) 


Heat the oil in a tagine or frying pan.
Cook onions and until transparent.
Add garlic, cumin  and chilli and briefly stir.
Add the drained tinned tomatoes stir into the mix crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon.
Cook for 10 mins on a medium heat.
Carefully add the eggs roughing up the whites a bit with a fork, making sure not to break the yolks.
Cover with a tight fitting lid or foil for 5 – 7 minutes until they are done to your liking.
Garnish with fresh parsley, some toasted cumin seeds and a drizzle of olive oil.

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