The Rommelette | Credit: Matt Kettmann

Truth be told, my invention of the “rommelette” this past Sunday morning was almost entirely by accident. I was aiming for a cheesy, four-egg omelette, enhanced with minced shallots, to serve as the protein punch alongside our croissants. But something happened between the melt — the eggs too puffy, it seemed, and the cheese too gooey — and the fold, which suddenly became more of a roll. I went with it, and advantages mounted.

The center stayed fresh while the edges browned to a crisp, particularly the area where the cheese spilled out to make a savory crust. And with some diced chives from the garden sprinkled on top and the burrito-like shape sliced into equal rounds, the rommelette looked quite appealing and slightly bizarre on the plate. And looks, of course, matter almost as much as taste in these social media, stuck-mostly-at-home coronavirus days.

Of course, thinking I invented something so relatively obvious didn’t last long. My kids reminded me that I’d done something like this before, and then the internet reminded me that the Japanese have been doing it since at least the late 1800s, when tamagoyaki first shows up in the literature. This delightfully soft, slightly sweet rolled omelette preparation, which also includes sugar and mirin, came into vogue after World War II, eventually becoming a staple of bento boxes and sushi restaurants, as it is even in the United States today. The Koreans also make a version, usually with carrots and scallions, called gyeran-mari, which translates to “egg roll.”

Mine was not so clean or meticulously layered as either of those, and it was more about American heft than East Asian elegance. So how did it taste? Just fine, but a bit dull for my palate. It’s a worthy template for bolder flavors in the future, perhaps a format that, once perfected by professionals, could be easily eaten straight from your hands while on the go. But for now, my daughter, Madeline, summed up my thoughts exactly. “It’s more about the look,” she said. “This needs bacon.”

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