Italians eat biscuits for breakfast. It’s true, I’ve seen them do it! They dunk them in lukewarm milk. When they don’t eat biscuits, they eat a sort of prepacked croissant filled with jam (or something, it certainly looks like jam) or chocolate paste. Fortunately they don’t dunk those in milk. The third option is going to a bar for breakfast. This is considered quite normal and I guess it’s not even that unpractical in this country. There’s about 50 of them on your average street so you’ll almost certainly pass one on your way to whatever. In such a bar, the average Italian will eat something so sweet it could kill a diabetic from a 40 ft distance. All of this sweet breakfasty business is accompanied by coffee. Not the British (or Dutch) type, the flavourless black water that Starbucks sells in pintsized paper cups, no, we’re talking the proper teeny tiny bouncy espresso, by itself or otherwise with a splash of hot milk, oh yes, cappuccino!
Apart from the coffee business of which I totally approve, I think it’s an outrage. Biscuits are not breakfast! Breakfast, the most important meal of the morning, surely should consist of something more substantial to get you going! We need muesli! Bread! Eggs! Hash browns! Or even something like fruit, which is not at all filling but at least it’s healthy. If I had the time and wasn’t too lazy, I’d settle for lasagne, curry, fried rice, something like that in the morning. But cooking up main meals in the morning is too much hassle. Thank God there’s shakshuka!
I recently learned it’s actually from Tunisia, but I was introduced to shakshuka by a bloke from Israel who told me it’s their national Saturday Morning Hungover Breakfast Dish. I love it because it meets all my demands: it’s savoury, it’s sorta healthy and it doesn’t actually leave me hungry (like fruit) or full, but slightly sick to the stomach (like those immensely gadzy croissants). There’s loads of ways of preparing it, but I like mine nice and simple, with not too many spices. It’s still breakfast, you know.
-1 tiny wee onion
-wee bit of garlic
-tin of peeled tomatoes, or fresh ones, if you happen to have some tasty fresh tomatoes lying about
Chop the onion and the garlic into tiny wee pieces and gently fry them in some olive oil. Don’t let them go brown! Add a tiny tiny amount of crushed chillies. Chop up the tomatoes (if you use fresh ones and if you can be bothered, take the skins off first, then take some of the seeds out, but not necessarily all, maybe just 3/4 or something?) and chuck them in the pan. Let them go all nice and soft until you get a nice, thick sauce. Add salt to taste, and some sugar if the tomatoes are a bit sour. Once the sauce is of the right consistency, break the eggs and carefully put them in the sauce. Put a lid on the pan and wait till the eggs are properly cooked, but preferably still have runny yolks. Sprinkle over some fresh coriander. Eat it with pita bread or any other bread that you may have.