Carmella’s Asparagus with Poached Egg

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I first saw an egg propped up on a row of asparagus at the table next to me on my last night in Rome two years ago. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that dish at the time, but it stuck in my visual food memory. I often talk about food memories and that the evidence of spectacular food is the memory it creates that haunts your tasting center and makes you want it. Visual food memories are powerful.

I’m the person in the restaurant that gawks at the food of other diners to see what i want to order. I’ve been known to ramble around the room, trying to be discreet, as I take a peek to see what the wonderfully described entrees really looks like. I think I stared a few extra times at the egg sitting on the asparagus, thinking to myself “if this is an Italian dish, why don’t I know about it.” I experienced a visual food memory.

When I showed my mom the picture above, she went into her Retro Rose dramatic conversation that I just adore, and in her loud dramatic voice: ‘Your great grandmother, Carmella, used to make asparagus and poached eggs and it was delicious. She was the best cook on earth She could make a meal from nothing. ”You’re the one that has followed in her foot steps. You’re the best cook in the family. No, now Angela, I mean that. You’re fabulous.”

Now I have to laugh. My own Italian mother is putting my food in the same league as my great grandmother. No way. I’m not there yet. This asparagus and poached egg is in honor of Carmella, my great grandmother from Naples, who I did have the pleasure of knowing, but sadly not her food, as by that time, my great aunts were doing all the cooking. I would give anything to be able to go back in time and eat with her for one week. Wouldn’t you?

The Secret to Simple

Those asparagus spears remind me of good soldiers standing at attention, doing what they need to do to hold up a beautiful, simple dish. Elegant and yet rustic. Made in less than 10 minutes, yet without compromise. No purchased pre-cut produce. When you eat this simple, everything must be great. Buy the freshest produce, organic eggs from your local farmer, and the best tasting delicate, extra virgin olive oil. And still, you will spending much less than your local fast food drive through. This is my kind of food revolution….eating like my great grandmother!

Ingredients for Asparagus and Poached Egg

  • Bunch of Asparagus
  • 2-4 Eggs (you decide how many you want to eat)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle over entire dish, drizzle, don’t drench)
  • Squeeze of lemon (enough to squeeze over entire bunch)
  • Pecorino Romano (enough to grate over entire bunch)
  • Sea salt, pepper
  • Crushed red pepper

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