The Sunday Ritual on Poppy Lane in Berkeley

Ritual is important.

Uta and I no longer waste cycles thinking about where to go and what to eat on Sundays. After improving our routine over the years, we’ve settled on a well-honed standard formula.

Around 11:00 am every Sunday I put down the NY Times and drift into cooking on glorious auto-pilot. Gruyère cheese omelets and hash browns are the mainstay. Here’s the drill.


Without thinking about it, I put skillets on the stove. The left, with a standard electric burner, is for the hash browns, and on the right, the omelet pan is on an induction burner.


Ingredients like the gruyère, parsley, and three eggs make their way from the fridge. I pop a couple of plates into the microwave to be heated for three minutes before serving.


My mind still elsewhere, perhaps pondering the Times or gazing out the window to our lush back yard, I grate the cheese and whisk the eggs with a couple of teaspoons of water, a pinch of salt, and a few dashes of Tabasco Sauce. I nibble the cheese. I may have a cup of coffee.


As the hash browns begin to brown at the edges, it’s time to turn to the eggs. That means it’s time to cut off the auto-pilot and pay attention to what’s going on.


I flick a few drops of water into the omelet pan. When it begins to sizzle, I pitch a couple of hunks of unsalted butter into the pan.


I pour the eggs into the butter and keep them moving with the spatula, sometimes lifting the curds to let the liquid part slide underneath to the heat.


As the omelet starts to firm up a bit, I add the cheese. I don’t mess with the eggs anymore until the cheese melts.


When the cheese is thoroughly melted, the omelet’s ready to serve. I fold the omelet a couple of times as it slides out of the skillet. I’ll sprinkle it with parsley for color.


Lunch is always served with bubbly.


Lately we’d been drinking California labels: Moët, Mumm, Piper Sonoma. Occasionally it’s crémant d’Alsace, primarily Lucian Albrecht rosé. Winemakers since 1520, the family’s previous generation put crémant d’Alsace on the map, gaining Appellation Controllée. However, the winery hit the skids recently and the family sold out. We grab half a dozen bottles from the shelf whenever we see it for fear it may someday disappear.

Life is sublime.

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