The other day, I was preparing a simple breakfast — eggs and toast — and trying to figure out how I could spice up the dish a bit. It hit me: a wave of nostalgia-cum-inspiration.
As a child, my parents used to augment Western dishes with East Asian seasonings. I didn’t think much of it then, but as time has passed, I find myself craving the fusion of foreign and familiar flavors (have I mention I love alliteration?). Anyway, back to the point: eggs with Maggi sauce.
Maggi seasoning sauce is actually produced by Nestle in Switzerland, and is widely popular in Europe and Asia. I’m obviously not a cultural expert, but I can confidently state that no Vietnamese kitchen is complete without a bottle of this seasoning sauce. Its dark color, umami flavor, and usage as a condiment may suggest a relation to soy sauce, but it actually contains none of that magical legume. All the same, my family uses it the same way we would soy sauce, splashing it on rice, tofu, and (yup, you guessed it) eggs.
I was profoundly happy at having re-discovered a childhood treat. As I sat there, scraping up my Maggi-perfumed eggs with toast, I thought about how representative this breakfast was of my Vietnamese roots. On my plate, I had: bread (brought to us by the French and adopted enthusiastically by the Vietnamese, as the banh mi sandwich exemplifies); Maggi, a European import that has rippled in popularity across the continent; and eggs, a staple food wherever you go. My breakfast may no longer have been a classically American dish, but it certainly was classic to me.