Spanish silly eggs: remembering my grandfather and his whole generation
Happy Thursday everyone!
This week, it’s been two years since my grandfather Juan passed away. It happened before we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the measures and the restrictions that have been part of us all this time. Given the way things have changed at least he didn’t die alone and had a proper burial, surrounded by his loved ones. Sadly, he spent his last years battling against Alzheimer, an illness that, among other things, stopped him doing his long daily walks or maintaining a normal conversation. There is no day I think of him and I quote him in everything I say.
Is there a link between my grandfather and today’s recipe? Yes, although I should better be more specific and say that it involves his entire generation. All my grandparents were born around the Spanish war years (1936-1939) and so they grew up in the terrible era that followed the conflict. The living conditions in rural southern Spain were so severely harsh that most families struggled to get all the essentials covered. Food was scarce to the extent that Franco’s dictatorship put in place a rationing system in which people could only purchase a limited amount of groceries.
My grandmother Rosa (widow of my late grandfather) once told me how it used to work: certain foods were allocated to specific days (milk and eggs on Mondays, for instance) and they would go once a day to the town’s bakery, queue, grab a basket and get the rationing card stamped-this way the military cabinet controlled the dispatching. She also remembers that one day she was denied the basket despite claiming she hadn’t received her stamp yet. Even the lady on the counter shouted at her: “Go back home! You’ve already been rationed” only because she looked overweight. She was then 10. Too cruel for a young girl.
On top of these cuts imposed by the dictatorship, families were forced to adopt an extreme policy food upholding without fridges or freezers in the households-different times, definitively. The risks of deterioration were obvious and bread, for example, would become stale within a day of being bought. And because they couldn’t afford to just get rid of it, they decided instead to create the most surprising recipe you will ever read here: silly eggs. With just a very few, humble ingredients our grandparents used to cook a flavourful meal and, most importantly, a source of energy.
Today it is used mainly as a soup accompaniment-like I did previously in the tomato soup recipe. I think it’s sensible to say it is the equivalent to the British bread and butter. By the way: consider this one instead and let me know what you think. There’s no better tribute to our grandparents than honouring their creations-and the silly eggs is a truly masterpiece.
INGREDIENTS(MAKES 10 UNITS)
Toast bread (10 slices, brown or white)
Garlic cloves (3)
DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING
Remove the crust of every bread slice and crumble them in small bits. Put them in a bowl and add a tiny stream of milk. Mix until they are just moist and crack the egg afterwards. All in all, it will result in a thick batter.
2. Chop both the garlic and the parsley very finely. Add and toss into the mixture with a pinch of salt and pepper. Make sure everything is well integrated.
3. Heat up some olive oil in a skillet. Using two spoons or your own hands, form the eggs the best way you consider and fry them straight away. Turn around when one side is golden brown. Finally, remove and place in a plate covered with kitchen paper so it absorbs the excess of oil.
5. At this stage they are ready to go in your soup or even be eaten on their own.