Which came first, the chicken or the… omelette?
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From Italy, the world received delicious pizza. Japan gave us all sushi. India’s dal and butter chicken grace our plates. But who first made the omelette?
History books say it was the French. The word omelette is a variation of the French term “alemelle” from the 13th century, meaning “the blade of a knife”. It refers to the flattened shape of the dish.
The first person to have tasted the omelette is French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. When he stopped with his army at an inn near the town of Bessieres, the innkeeper served an omelette in his honour. Bonaparte was shocked by the new dish. He loved it so much, he asked the innkeeper to gather all the eggs he could find and prepare the biggest feast of fluffy omelettes for his entire army. The traditional Easter omelette is supposed to have been inspired by that event.
Since then, the unassuming, nutritious omelette has come a long way. Today, it’s part of most cultures around the world, although each one makes it differently.
In Japan, eggs are prepared in a rectangular shape by rolling several layers of thin omelettes. The whisked eggs also include sugar, water, and rice vinegar. After it is cooked and rolled up, the omelette is cut into pieces and savoured with various kinds of dips and sauces. The dish is called tamagoyaki or Japanese rolled omelettes.
In Spain, on the other hand, omelettes have an accompaniment – patatas or potatoes, which are thinly sliced and sautéed with onions, bell peppers, and ginger. The potatoes are then stirred into the beaten eggs and then cooked again, on both sides. When it is done, the cake-like omelette is cut into flavourful wedges and served. Known as tortilla de patatas or the Spanish omelette, it’s delicious and filling, and often served as a breakfast option around the world.