college is a magical time for almost everybody. sure, it has its ups and downs. i think being a freshman is terrible for a lot of people, and i had a rough time my senior year because i just wanted to get out into the world. that being said, during my middle years, i had not a care in the world. my highlights included going to a few classes between partying, ordering enough pizza people got fatter by just entering the room, and making all sorts of stupid hasty decisions about what my future held. ah, i miss it.
i attended beloit college, a small liberal arts college in scenic beloit, wi. i learned to love the town more than most people who attended my college because, as you might expect, i got to know the restaurants and go-to spots in the community. i made it my business to know the best kept secrets and hit them up as often as possible.
the reason i got out and tried to find all the best restaurants in beloit, however, was because (when i was attending the college) the food was sub par at best. limited funding, limited resources, and an astounding amount of student workers made almost every meal a crapshoot. sometimes it was good. other times, it was salad bar or bust. but i digress. the point of this post is not to rip on college eating establishments. we all know about the dos and don’t of cafeteria dining.
the point of this post is to emphasize the strength of nostalgia and its connection with what we smell and eat.
i have a lot of posts about breakfast sandwiches on pmk. i love breakfast sandwiches, and as such i make them all the time. what makes them “breakfast sandwiches” is my liberal use of fried eggs, light veggies, and traditional breakfast meats like bacon and sausage.
but a few days ago, i decided to forgo the fried egg and instead go scrambled. i decided to cook a thin sheet of egg and fold it into a square when it was close to finished, and i thought myself quite clever for thinking up such a great sandwich egg technique. but while the eggs were cooking and i was slicing my french roll, it dawned on me that i had had a sandwich with a folded sheet of scrambled egg hundreds of times before.
what i was making was none other than what beloit students refer to as a “beloit bagel.”
don’t let the name fool you. the beloit bagel need not be served on a bagel. i regularly ordered it on an english muffin. lots of people ordered it on wheat toast. the crucial part of the beloit bagel was the egg. to make a beloit bagel, a ladle of eggs is spread onto a well-oiled flat grill, and a slice of cheese is placed in the center. when the eggs are very close to done, a flatgrill spatula is used to fold the edges onto the cheese in the middle. the result is a sealed, square pocket of egg with melted cheese in the middle. once placed on bread with a slice of bacon or two, the beloit bagel is complete.
the cheese was always american, which meant as soon as you bit into the sandwich, searing hot petroleum product squirted out onto your chin and lips. i honestly could have done without that part. but thinking back, the technique was sound.
so i decided to improve upon it.
- four french rolls
- half an onion
- half a cucumber
- shaved or thinly sliced ham
- daikon sprouts (a.k.a. kaiware)
- two eggs
- japanese spider greens (a.k.a. mizuna)
- an avocado
- a good cheese (optional, but i tend to go for smoked cheeses or camembert)
- slice the rolls in half and pop them in the toaster oven. don’t toast them yet, just get them ready.
- sharpen that knife, because it is veggie slicing time. wash and slice the cucumber at an angle to create nice long ovals that will sit easily on a sandwich.
- split the avocado in half and remove the pit. peel and slice each half at about 2mm thickness.
- wash the daikon sprouts, squeeze any excess water out of them, and slice off the root base.
- peel the onion and slice it as thin as you can possibly get it.
- cut the base off of your spider green and chop each bunch into one inch segments.
- put a little bit of oil in a frying pan and set your stove to medium high heat. once the oil is hot enough, add your ham a few pieces at a time. fried ham can be tricky sometimes, so do your best not to let natural oils burn. while it is frying, prepare a few sheets of paper towels on a plate. as each batch finishes, place it on the paper towels to soak up some of the extra oiliness.
- crack your eggs into a bowl, add a little bit of salt and pepper and a few spoons of water (or chicken stock), and scramble them. put a few tablespoons of oil into a frying pan and bring it up to medium high to high heat.
- remember those rolls? start a-toasting.
- when the oil is nice and hot, pour enough eggs to barely cover the bottom of the pan in. it should bubble and cook through almost immediately. put your cheese in the middle of the sheet of egg if you decided to include it. use a spatula to fold the edges onto the center. by the time you finish, the egg will probably be cooked though already.
- take your rolls out, spread a little bit of mayo in each side, and assemble the sandwich. add your spider greens, egg square, avocado, onion, fried ham, and kaiware in that order. serve with a few steamed/boiled sausages and a nice big mug of coffee, and you got yourself a breakfast any poor man can appreciate.
note: this recipe makes four pretty big sandwiches. you might need to save one or two for later if you don’t have company over for breakfast.