Beat two eggs per person, adding a tiny bit
of water (about 1 tablespoon). Pour the eggs into a hot, buttered pan and cook
gently until the edges are crisp but the centre is still soft. If desired, fold
the omelette and serve immediately.
Inspiration will no doubt guide you in your choice of garnish. To the egg preparation you may add grated cheese, herbs, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, ham, sweet peppers, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, Mexican beans or maple syrup. And to mark the month of lovers, why not put together a refined version using aphrodisiac ingredients such as smoked oysters, truffles, honey, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger?
Keep in mind that it is easier to cook a few small omelettes than a single big one. Except of course if you happen to be passing through Abbeville, Louisiana, where every year, during a very colourful festival, a giant omelette is made with 5000 eggs!
Long before setting the love story of Carmen and Don José to music, Georges Bizet had already composed a number of operettas. In 1857, at the age of 19—two years after creating his Symphony in C—he decided to participate in a competition organized by Jacques Offenbach. To publicize the opening of the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisien, Offenbach invited composers to create the music to a libretto by Léon Battu and Ludovic Hélavy, Doctor Miracle. Seventy composers took up the challenge and the first prize was a tie between Georges Bizet and Charles Lecocq (1832–1918). The premières of the two operettas took place on April 8 and 9, 1857. The public liked Bizet’s version so much that the operetta was performed 11 more times over the following weeks. It was then set aside for many decades before being revived in 1951. The Lecocq version seems to have been completely forgotten.
The operetta stars a couple of lovebirds, Sylvio, a young army captain, and Laurette, the daughter of an antimilitarist magistrate who doesn’t want his daughter to have anything to do with that boy. Sylvio refuses to be thwarted and finds a way to be hired as a chef for the magistrate. For his first meal, Chef Pasquin proposes his version of an omelette, which leads to a highly comical “Omelette Quartet.” The dish is so bad that the magistrate and his wife step outside for a breath of fresh air to ease their stomach pains. Sylvio drops his disguise and takes the opportunity to charm his beloved. When the parents return, a telegram (signed by Sylvio) informs them that the omelette was poisoned. They send for Doctor Miracle—once again, Sylvio in disguise!—who promises an effective cure in exchange for Laurette’s hand. All’s well that ends well—a far cry from the tragic ending of Carmen.
On March 1, 2 and 3, Rigoletto Productions will present this truculent quartet and other operetta excerpts highlighting the connection between operetta music and food and spirits in their new show, Quand l’opéra Bouffe. Information: (514) 729-5079. [Translated by Alexandre Lebedeff]