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Fried potatoes with eggs

When I was a child my mother used to cook fried potatoes with eggs in the summer. We spent the summers in a small house by the sea. You walked down the few steps from the veranda and you were on the sand beach. On the bed at night you heard the gentle sound of the waves on the sand – the wind blew north to south and the coastline was shielded from big waves. The smell at the front of the house was crisp from the sea, on the back moist from the fields. There were no cars, no electricity.

The small kitchen had a door at the end of a corridor leading to the one side of the veranda. From the kitchen you could see the sea and at night from the sea you could see the light in the kitchen –and my mother preparing the food. In the evenings we children played on the moist sand and came on the veranda when dinner was ready.

Our diet in the summers was defined by what was produced or fished locally: almost daily fish, rice pudding from heavy local goat milk, tomatoes, zucchini, and figs from the near-by fields. Cheese was of two varieties: A sublime local gruyere and a soft very fresh white cheese, prepared by a lady down the road. The locals passed by on donkeys; vegetables, milk, eggs and fruits in baskets from their fields, always giving away produce because that was natural to do. They were loud and used to stop for coffee during the day and ouzo in the evening. In the morning we found loaded baskets in front of the door, and tried to guess the kind vendor by the irrigation schedules of the fields.

Potatoes and watermelons were a little more difficult. We either had to make a small excursion to the fields for the watermelons, or rely on the supply of Apostolis who came with his tractor loaded with both.

As I grew older the local gruyere never fell out of favour, but fried potatoes with eggs did. Until, in a tapas restaurant in Madrid, I ordered this simple dish. And, like another madeleine, it brought me many years back, to the evenings on the veranda in the small house by the sea.

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