I have been thinking a lot about Paris this week. It’s been a little over a week since last week’s tragedy. Les mots me manquent pour exprimer ma tristesse, mais mes penseés sont avec vous. I have never been to Paris, but I have felt a connection to this city ever since I was little and for the craziest reasons. And so when Paris is in the news, I can’t help but think about other things too…
Photo credit: How Sweet Eats
Few people know that my mom’s hometown in Greece, Filiatra has a miniature “La Tour Eiffel” at the entrance of the town. And that her town is also known as “mikro Parisaki”…mini Paris or micro Paris, if you will. Oui, c’est vrai. Those that know it, know that it’s NOTHING like Paris, except maybe for the ornate, antique bronze fountain in the town’s square, but we love it anyway. It’s a small, rustic town about a kilometer and a half away from the sea, in the southwestern Peloponnesian prefecture of Messinia. You’ll find tractors parked in the street as easily as you will find a Peugeot. The sidewalks might be a little cracked but the cafes are plenty.
La mini Tour Eiffel de Filiatra
How might you ask does a miniature Eiffel Tower end up in a small agricultural town in southwest Greece?
Well, I’ll tell you. An old doctor named Haralambos Fournarakis, was so enamored with the French language and culture, that he changed his last name to Fournier and gifted to his hometown of Filiatra this replica of the Eiffel Tower. Back in the day, it used to sit in the courtyard of the foreign language school. Later, when the school closed, they moved the pint size Eiffel Tower to the main entry of the town, so that there would be no doubt where you were as you drove in…”we’re in mikro Parisaki now!” Of course there is a sign that says “Filiatra” just so you don’t worry that you drove way too far and ended up in France. Very kind of them. 😉
Adding to this absurdité the miniature Eiffel Tower of Filiatra has even claimed it’s 15 minutes of fame by starring in a Gorden’s Space Drink commercial too. I’m not kidding, look! Click here!
But let’s get back to Paris. Let’s celebrate all the joy and bon vivant they have been generous enough to share with the world. I love their language, their food, their style and their cafe lifestyle. They gave us le camembert, le cafe au lait, la boeuf à la Bourguignonne, le vin, la champagne et la bouilliabaisse. Oui! And they gave us the le Renaissance, la Revolution et la Reverie. They are the city of lights and l’amour. A city of thinkers and philosophers. So in my “micro-way”, in honor of Paris and it’s Eiffel tower, this girl whose roots stem from a micro-Paris in southwest Greece, I offer to them, and to you, a twist on the classic French recipe, Croque Madame Egg Cups.
Mais oui! Allons-y!
Croque Madame Egg Cups – Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s “Little Paris Kitchen”
Makes 6, serves trois 😉
6 slices of sliced bread (I used Udi’s gluten free)
6 oz of swiss cheese
3 tbsp of melted butter
3 slices of Virginia ham
For the béchamel sauce
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour (I use Dove’s Gluten Free White Flour)
8 oz of milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 oz of grated gruyere cheese
salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Start by making the béchamel sauce. in a small sauce pan, melt a tablespoon of butter, then add the flour. Slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time so that you avoid clumps. Then add the dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Take the sauce off the heat once it’s thickened and add the gruyere cheese. Set aside.
Cut the crusts off the slices of bread and then roll them flat one at a time. Once you have done that, brush them with melted butter and fit them carefully into a muffin pan to form the toasty “shells” of your crock madame.
Next, tear pieces of ham into each egg cup and then carefully crack open an egg into each muffin. I like to use small eggs for this recipe, but if you have large ones you can pour out some of the whites so that your muffins don’t overflow.
Once you have each muffin filled with the bread, ham and egg, spoon a couple of tablespoons of béchamel sauce over each one and top with the remaining swiss cheese. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
And in the wise words of Julia Child, bon appetite!
Le sauce béchamel
Au revoir =)