Why omelettes are the perfect dinner for one

By Sam Woulidge, 15 June 2024

When cooking for one, Sam Woulidge relies on free-range eggs and Mrs Beeton’s instructions for the perfect fluffy omelette.

I’ve been looking at the whole girl dinner thing on TikTok with a side-eye. A few olives, a slice of ham, a couple of pieces of cheese, a tomato or two? That’s not supper. That’s a snack. Eaten straight from the fridge while you decide what you’re going to make for supper. A girl dinner, as far as 50-something me can recall, was a tub of decent ice cream, a large packet of chips and last night’s leftover wine.

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I still like to end off the day with delight, not denial, so my choice of solo supper needs to be a bit more indulgent, but also no more time-consuming to make than a cheese toastie. Enter the omelette. Nourishing and comforting but able
to hold its own in any surroundings, the omelette will always get my vote. It’s smarter than a casual scrambled egg,
more dressed up than a fried one, and far more impressive than a boiled egg. An omelette feels special; as if you’ve
gone to a bit of trouble to make something nice out of, well, an egg.

The soufflé-like omelette I’m currently obsessed with is apparently an English invention and I owe much gratitude to
Mrs Beeton, who left the world careful instructions in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Much as I love
the French omelette as served in fancy French restaurants, I am intimidated by the thought of Larousse Gastronomique’s precise dictates of using only eggs, butter, salt and a frying pan. This requires a level of expertise of which I’m simply not capable.

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Cheese soufflé omelette

Find the recipe for Sam's cheese soufflé omelette here. 

But I have managed the art of the fluffy omelette served alongside a large glass of good wine and a small leafy salad. Perfect for the rare occasions when I’m alone while Jacques and Seb go camping. Some may argue that omelettes, even the truly great ones, should only be served for breakfast. Once I may even have agreed with them. But no more. Because I have had two spectacular, sensational in their simplicity, French-style omelettes for dinner in two rather wonderful restaurants. The first was at Prune in New York, the iconic East Village Restaurant owned by Gabrielle Hamilton, which is now no more. (Sadly, a Covid casualty but her words live on; her memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter is a must-read, and do search for her old New York Times columns online.) On her dinner menu was, surprisingly, an omelette, served with a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano and cracked salt. It was perfection. We ordered it for Seb because he was only five and we thought it would be a good kid’s meal. It was. But we grown-ups wanted it too. Because omelettes are for everyone.

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The other was on a girls’ trip to Paris with my friend Jocelyn. We had dinner at the swanky Hotel Costes, where the DJ, the playlist, the gloriously scented candles and the gorgeous interiors surpassed anything we could find to eat on the eye wateringly expensive menu. But amid the foie gras and snails was the reassuring presence of une omelette. We ordered it with an enormous side order of thin fries and an excellent assortment of wine. Now that, my friends, is a true girl dinner.

Sam Woulidge

Article by Sam Woulidge

Cape Town-based writer Sam Woulidge is a regular TASTE columnist, blogger and author of 'Confessions of a Hungry Woman'. Follow her on Twitter @samwoulidge
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