I am currently reading an incredibly hilarious (and painfully on-point) book, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, by the late David Rakoff. Throughout the 220 pages of essays and short stories, the author, who unfortunately died of cancer this past month, humorously explores topics of our boring – yet interesting – daily lives. Rakoff wittily digs at the smorgasbord of our culture’s most popular subject matters, like politics, money, food and pop-culture.
As someone who enjoys food – and writing about food – one chapter especially struck a chord with me. In this chapter, Rakoff discusses our culture’s newfound, highbrow obsession with the simplicity of pure foods; and he makes fun of himself and his food-writing colleagues at The New York Times for participating in this “realm of narcissism.”
Just as Rakoff admits to joining the masses of food purists (although thankfully and aggressively questions our culture’s need to ship ice cubes frozen from a river in the Scottish Highlands), I too, enjoy simple and pure flavors.
But as Rakoff states, “Simplicity, it seems, has always been wasted on those who simply cannot appreciate it.”
Today’s Food Culture
Food culture has become a hobby of the economically privileged, with special salt crystals selling for $36 a kilo, expensive truffles being infused into every dish (although I read that trend is finally over) and yes, even ice cubes being shipped from a far off lake so that our perfectly aged scotches will not suffer from those materials found in “regular water.”
These days you can even find fresh, organic milk bottled in “rustic” glass bottles that hints at nostalgia for the days when milk was delivered to your back door. Only unlike those days, these bottles run for close to $6 for a half-gallon. Ahh yes, expensive milk in a peasant-like bottle meant to validate some sense of authenticity to those who can afford it…
While the ironic trend of highly priced, yet simple and earthly food is frustrating, it does create a new space for exploring some no-frills dishes that, surprisingly, can be assembled for a cost similar to the ethos the dish seeks to emulate.
One example of such dishes is this “rustic” avocado, arugula and fried egg open-face sandwich. The ingredients used are simple, inexpensive and available at most grocery stores (not just specialty stores). And as an added bonus, it’s quick and easy to prepare. So here’s to some simplicity in life that we can all appreciate.
Rustic Avocado, Arugula and Fried Egg Open-Face Sandwich
- Rustic, crunchy bread – I used a fresh baguette
- 2 eggs
- ½ of an Avocado
- Course sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 fresh lemon
- Cut the desired amount of bread from the loaf and slice in half and brush the two halves with some olive oil and toast in a warm oven until crispy and slightly browned.
- In the meantime, toss some fresh arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some sea salt. Set aside.
- Cut and pit the avocado and drizzle the slices with olive oil and sea salt – set aside.
- Fry two eggs in a pan (however you like them best).
- Start to layer the sandwiches: On the crispy, open faced bread, layer the arugula, the avocado slices and then egg. Finish everything off with some fresh ground pepper, one last pinch of salt and one last drizzle of olive oil.