It was the year 2013. Long before I got Instagram. Long before I could take photos from my phone.
I was working for a media house when my immediate boss asked me if I wanted to go to Cafe Soma to have Eggs Benedict after work. I agreed because 1) I still trust his taste buds, 2) I wanted to try this fancy-sounding dish in a posh cafe, and most importantly, 3) I never say no to food.
It turned out to be a breakfast item, with two slices of bread, two poached eggs, and slices of bacon with hollandaise sauce. It came with salad and roasted potatoes as a side dish. It changed my life.
Since that initial introduction, my boss and I would end up at Soma to have Eggs Benedict every time we got paid after work hours along with other colleagues. I don’t know if it was because I enjoyed the dish or because of the people I was surrounded by Eggs Benedict became my happy food. Even after leaving my work, I kept going back to it at Soma till the cafe gave off the vibe of preferring foreigners (it was already more biased). The price of the dish rose from Rs. 500 to Rs. 700 and later, no side dishes were accompanying it anymore. And then one day, it wasn’t the same dish anymore. Something felt off; I felt betrayed. The last time I went was in 2017.
From what I’d learned about the dish by then, I figured trying it at different places would be a disaster. Yet, there have been times I took the risk. I started venturing out to cafes in Kathmandu craving the same taste. While most of the time, I ordered something safe, like an English breakfast set, there were few places I felt bold enough to order the Benedict.
Out of all the places I tried, French Bakery in Pakanajol satisfied my cravings till it also lost its original taste. Electric Pagoda almost nailed it, when I ordered in 2018, and they were also very open to my recommendation. Urban Press in Kupandole ruined it for me while Cafe Joshi in Maharajgunj was so-so.
I have also asked my cousins to make one for me. The ones prepared at home (once in Melbourne by dada in 2017 and the other at home by Pattu last year) were far better than the ones I have eaten out. But the energy and time required to prepare it is the next thing. So I will probably never try to make it by myself.
And now I am left with a bitter feeling that I will never feel the same while, Eggs Benedict, as I did when I first tried it in Cafe Soma in 2013.