What does someone who has never set foot in New York, never mind in one of its bodegas, know about bodega egg and cheese sandwiches?
Nothing. And everything. Because by the power vested in me by an excessive pop culture consumption, I feel like I know bodegas the way I know corner shops*. I know their overcrowded counters, chocolate bars and energy drinks over spilling from the shelves. Chewy and shiny bagels, coffee in Greek blue cups. Egg and cheese sandwiches.
After seeing infinite pictures of said sandwiches on Instagram, I developed a certain kind of obsession which I am known to develop. The kind of search for the perfect version of something which finds me whisking and frying up eggs in the middle of the night, spending days thinking about egg to cheese ratio and obsessive scrolling-led research.
I became obsessed with these perfect creatures. The way they come in a crispy wrapper, but already cut in half. The bap: delicate, soft-looking, like a milk bun, wrinkly and sunken in the middle, pale but golden at the top. The bright yellow, firm egg. The cheese pull: an innocent-looking cheese, soft and bland like those I used to have in my soup as a toddler. The bodega egg and cheese sandwich was a product of such simplicity and immediacy, its number of ingredients comfortably counted on one hand, its appearance uncluttered and close to monochromatic.
But how do you attempt something you have never made before? How could I ever measure success?
So I made it into something a little more familiar. I turned it into an (English) muffin.
This technique for making bodega eggs (hint: the cheese is inside the egg) comes from Deb Perelman’s recipe; it’s both very quick and very easy, making it the perfect lazy-Sunday-morning-hungover recipe. I personally endorse its consumption even without a hangover. When it comes to cheese, I personally believe that mild, innocent plastic cheese slices are really the only contender here (think McMuffin), but I did sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top for a little extra tang.
Bodega egg and cheese muffin
One muffin (lightly toasted, cut in half).
a splash of water (roughly 1/2 teaspoon for one egg)
one cheese slice (the cheaper, the better)
a little grated parmesan (optional)
salt & pepper
a little butter
Break an egg, whisk in the water and a little salt and pepper. Melt some butter in a pan until the latter is coated. Pour the egg mixture in the pan and spread it around evenly, like you would with a crepe. Then add a cheese slice on top of the egg, in the very middle of the pan, and sprinkle with grated parmesan. Let the egg cook though (this will take roughly 1 minute to 1 minute and a half). Then fold one side of the egg over the cheese; do the same with the other sides, until you form a square. For a step-by-step guide on folding, I recommend checking this link.
Place the egg in your muffin. It goes particularly well with tabasco, over-brewed coffee and paracetamol for some reason.
*Side note: I love corner shops. Their slightly musky basement smells; the shiny crisps packets in flavours you’ve never seen before; the off-brand snacks whose design just reminds you of something else; the hidden section which manages to stock both Polish pretzels and Italian biscuits; the loud, colourful chocolate bars framing the check-out; the unbelievably expensive shit wine and the lonely milk and cheddar. If only they served egg and cheese sandwiches.
**Side note 2: I was curious about trying two eggs in one muffin. The result was borderline comical: