The Egg, Cheese and Tomato



Neighborhood: East Village

The Egg, Cheese and Tomato
Photo by Ryoko Yagi

They often amuse me, the touchstones that have become the rituals of my life. Jiggling the doorknob to make sure the door is locked. Stacking my self-help books according to dysfunction. Making sure no one is watching when I enter my weight and age into the elliptical training machine at the gym. Checking for ear hairs. Stuff like that. I came of age in New York City in the late 70’s. I remember waking up next to a dashing Italian one morning after a night at Studio 54. I was 19 and he was 28. All the sexy guys were 28 with great jobs and stylish apartments. As I attempted to focus my bleary eyes on the foil wallpaper overhead, he cooed: What would you like for breakfast? I told him pancakes and eggs and before I knew it, breakfast was delivered from the Greek diner on the corner and served in bed, right out of the aluminum tins. This, I was sure, was the height of decadence. I was living the great bohemian myth of this fabled city.

That was back when sex wasn’t dangerous and the breakfast special was a dollar twenty-five with meat. Between me and my roommate Cynthia, our railroad flat saw a lot of action. In those cocky pre-Evian days of my youth, after a one-night love affair, my guests were lucky if they got a glass of tap water. But, alas, age and time humbles us all. Now, I dream of the day when I’ll be able to make a guy pancakes and serve them to him in bed. I aspire to be the kind of guy that makes pancakes for his devoted lover. There’s even a Post-it on my refrigerator. Buy pancake griddle. It’s been up there for a couple years. Not sure what I’m waiting for.

Until then, the egg, cheese and tomato sandwich will have to do. Fashioned after the great egg, cheese and bacon numbers from all-night delis, I have substituted tomato for the bacon. In my world, fat is tantamount to death. Most New York guys are shocked if you actually own the apparatus to make them a cup of coffee in the morning without having to run down five flights. They can hardly believe it when you bring it to them in bed. I tell them: In my apartment civilization is not dead. They always seem delighted just before the look of dread falls over their faces. You see, guys always worry that you’re falling in love with them too fast. So not everyone gets the egg, cheese and tomato. You have to save something for the wedding night.

I always feel like I’m taking a chance when I serve the egg, cheese and tomato. Like I’m going too fast or something. Probably because as I’m frying up the egg and hoping the toast doesn’t burn, and laying on the cheese, I’m really preparing an offering to the Gods of possibility. That maybe, just maybe, he’s the one. The one that will see the real me. The one that will stay. So he gets the egg, cheese and tomato. And we settle back in bed and enjoy. Crumbs and all. And he is always amazed. Whoever he is. Because this simple food, the food of street-sweepers and cops, cabbies and indie filmmakers, is the food of love, strength and survival. If you can dream of the possible, you must be willing to let it go. And, if you can make it there, well, you know…

I don’t have anyone special in my life right now, but I think I’ve been pretty lucky in love. A number of wonderful men have passed through my life. But the Post-it is still on the fridge. Buy pancake griddle. Maybe it’s time.


The Egg, Cheese and Tomato

• Heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (not the cheap stuff, this might be love after all) in non-stick omelet pan until oil is hot and thin.
• Break 3 egg whites & 1 yoke into oil. Make sure yoke breaks. Do not scramble.
• Start toast of choice, bialy, bagel or Portugese roll. In New York the sesame bagel from H&H is a classic. In Los Angeles the onion-pumpernickel from Cantor’s is meaty, sweat and tart. But never ever feel shame about preferring white toast.
• Flip eggs when brown around the edge and after they are firm, fold into half-moon and lay on a slice of imported (from Italy, not Sacramento) aged provolone cheese. You may substitute cream cheese with scallions (imported from Philadelphia) spread right on the toast for a smoother, perhaps more comforting experience.
• Cut half-moon of eggs and cheese in half and layer on toast.
• Add 2 thin slices of ripe tomato. Halve sandwich and serve hot with salt and pepper in bed with a nice cloth napkin.

Victor Mignatti is a film director and screenwriter. His work includes the romantic comedy BROADWAY DAMAGE, the outrageous Grammy Award nominated hip-hopera TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET 13-22 and the documentary THIS TIME. He’s on the web at

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