I think of my father whenever I make eggs, or get caught in a lie.
On returning from Vietnam he was hired and fired as a short order cook in less than an hour. He claimed to have been a mess sergeant with the Marine Corps, but The Salty Dog kitchen staff knew the truth after one omelet.
    “Tom washed the omelet pan!”
    “He what? Impossible!”
Having been, rather, a sharpshooter, Tom didn’t know that one does not wash the traditional carbon-steel omelet pan between orders, but rather rubs it clean with a dry cloth, scouring the sticky bits with salt and vinegar.
This morning I pull the pan from the rack and lay a pat of butter at its center. I crack three eggs into a mixing bowl, add sea salt and pepper, and beat with a fork. I crumble feta, dice onion and chop tomato. I turn the gas on high, push the pat around, and just as it disappears I pour in the beat mixture, add the cheese, onion and tomato and watch the egg cook, the feta melt. Once it’s done I fold the egg, slide it onto a plate, sit down and eat. The omelet’s good and salty.
I got a job bussing tables at the Michelin-starred Fleur de Lys because I knew the maître d’. I only lasted one night. The draped walls and tented ceiling did not muffle the clatter as I cleared dirty dishes. I splashed the table linens with water and dropped bread on the plush rug. An older diner in pearls asked: “How on earth did you get a job here? After all, this is Fleur de Lys!” I didn’t answer, just lowered my head and filed back into the kitchen.
I finish the omelet and clean up after myself. The pan is one of those newer nonstick kinds, so I can just rinse it off and throw it in the dishwasher.

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4 Responses to “A Week of Short Stories — Washing the Omelet Pan”

  1. Akiko says:

    Oh, I enjoyed the story! Well, many years ago in Japan, I was told never wash an iron pan with water but just wipe it off with a paper towel. With time (years afterwards) it becomes an “organic” almost non stick pan. I don’t know if people continue to follow this custom.

  2. [...] Today The Walkin Kitchen features my illustrated nonfiction piece, “Washing the Omelet Pan.” [...]

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