European vs American Omelets: What’s the Difference?
Here in the states, we think of our omelets as the typical omelet, maybe different fillings referring to different regions but essentially all the same. But, what if you were to find out that the American omelet is a very different style than that the European way of cooking an omelet was the “traditional”. This isn’t just about what the Europeans put in their omelet, though admittedly that is part of it, but how the eggs are rolled and cooked. It’s a distinct style very separate from the American way and also difficult to find unless a restaurant is familiar with the French or European form of an omelet. Let’s get into some of the differences between our omelet and the European omelet.
Think of a typical food that is common. Then consider how different it can be from restaurant to restaurant. Then imagine how different it can be in different states, regions, and then you’re getting the picture of how a European omelette is able to be wildly different than the one you’re familiar with. Even the way an omelette is prepared in the Northwest is extremely different than in Texas or Southern California. If regions vary that much, imagine how much different it can be when it’s another country with its own history and culture.
It’s exciting to know that you can always try a new style of a common food. Never eating the same omelette twice essentially. Let’s get into some of the differences between our omelette and the European omelette.
1) The Way the Eggs Are Cooked
In the states, we’re fond of thoroughly cooking our eggs till they are more firm, but you may find this hard to find across the Atlantic. They’re fond of fluffy eggs on the other side of the ocean. The eggs are continuously whisked while the pan is shaken so they don’t stick to the bottom nor do they achieve that golden color we associate with cooked eggs. The eggs in a European omelet are more on the wet side and just firm enough to roll over. When cutting into this kind of omelet, prepare for the center to flow out rather than stay firm. Think of it as rolling up an egg more over-easy than well-done. But, unlike American omelets, the European brand is much more moist in texture and fluffy.
While it may be tempting to think of, don’t imagine a European omelette as runny eggs that flood the plate with little more than butter. They’re just a softer and creamier texture than you’re accustomed to. You may find that you prefer this style of eggs than the one you’re used to. Never know until you give it a shot and let the chef cook what you came to try.
2) What Is in the Omelet?
The American omelet is defined by what it’s stuffed with. For example, a southern-style omelet would have beans, corn, cheese, and would probably be on the spicier side of food. A western styled omelet or a Denver omelet is known for being filled with ham and bell peppers. European omelets are far more simple. While they’re more akin to a sunny side firmness of eggs, another difference is that they’re often filled with nothing but cheese and some herbs.
Now, of course, this can change depending on the country or on someone’s personal tastes, but the herb and cheese filling is the more traditional way. A German omelette may have sausage added into the center, for example. But, you don’t have to be bound to the basic European omelet, it’s a rich region with many food cultures to explore.
Another example is the Spanish omelette. The eggs are cooked closer to the American omelette, but in a circular shape and is known as a tortilla de patatas. They’re usually prepared with thin slices of potatoes, seasoned and sauteed in olive oil, then whisked into the eggs. The chef then cooks the omelette on one side till grilled before flipping it over. A few differences with an American omelette, as you can see, but two should catch your eye. Adding onions, in some regions of Spain, is a controversial decision. Seems to depend on the potatoes used. Another is that eating them cold is perfectly acceptable.
So, don’t be afraid that you’re violating some sacred omelet code. There are many ways to cook an omelette. What is considered wrong depends on where you’re at more than anything. Some people think it’s weird to eat the omelette cold or to add onions, how fluffy or cooked the eggs are, and even the shape of the dish itself. It’s really the way the eggs are cooked as well as how it is presented that is the difference between American and European omelettes. Even then, depends on which European country you’re in and what region of it you’re in. Let’s not even get into what chefs believe about dishes, that’s a whole other world.
3) How the Omelet Is Formed?
Omelets in America are usually folded once over and cooked thoroughly, but the French way is to roll it up. Think of a burrito, but instead of bread it’s eggs. Before being fashioned into an egg cylinder the omelet is filled with cheese and choice herbs, assuming it’s a traditional omelet of course. Remember that European omelets are fluffy and the center flows out when cutting the omelet, so don’t say the omelet is undercooked because the chef will look at you funny. Can’t go for an authentic European omelette and have it prepared in an unauthentic way. Misses the whole point of trying new foods and takes on cuisine entirely to do so.
In Spain, as mentioned earlier, their version of the European omelette is to make it like a pancake. It’s cooked on both sides and shaped like one, except you can cut into it where filling comes out. While there are similarities between the Spanish and French omelette in terms of how fluffy the egg is, they are very different in terms of shape and ingredients. While the Spanish omelette is tough on the outside, it’s very fluffy on the inside and they don’t just use herbs as the French chefs do. So, now we have folded omelettes in American, rolled omelettes in France, and pancake-shaped omelettes in Spain.
Again, a primary difference between American and European omelettes is the texture of the eggs. American omelets are more on the crispy side and firm while European is softer and fluffy. Even then it depends on what European country you’re in, as noted above. Taste the difference and see what you like more. Just go in with an open mind instead of letting your tongue cling to tradition.
Love both the American and European Omelette
Our beloved dishes change shape, and their melodies of flavor can sing different tunes around the world. Why be enriched only to find a glass ceiling due to exposure? Let your taste buds travel the world and explore every manner of omelette, from European to the Far East. Eggs are a wonderful item to cook and we know there are many styles of cooking them, and so it is with omelettes. It isn’t just about the variety of items you can fold or roll into them: the herbs, meats, vegetables, and cheeses. The texture of the egg itself has diversity.
Even different chefs have different takes on their culture’s version of an omelette. Try a French omelette Gordon Ramsay recipe, see how it’s different than an American omelette. Maybe a fluffy french omelette with cheese to see how it differs from other styles. Food is an endless pleasure that can always surprise your tastebuds.
So when looking for a breakfast out with the family or friends and you see “Traditional European Omelet“, not only will you know the things to expect, but you’ll know it’s something that’ll enrich your palette. Taste the beginnings of the omelette, in all their fluffy and buttery glory. Then try and find some different omelette recipes to whip up at home, keep experimenting, and developing cuisine here too. Who knows, your version of the omelette may become the next regional tradition for breakfast.
Food, like language, is constantly evolving and enriching our lives. While it’s good to experiment and add to the world of cuisine, it’s also good to taste the beginnings and traditions that came before. Like being an archeologist, but with utensils, friends, family, and a full tummy.
Have a delicious morning!