Egg Sandwich and the case of the Jalapeno Popper

When I stayed with CelloGirl in Atlanta, I reveled the famously warm Southern hospitality: the weather was balmy, the city felt familiar and welcoming, and nearly every morning I was treated to an egg sandwich, CelloGirl style. There are an infinite number of variations, but here are the basics:

1. put an english muffin in the toaster. we want crispy here, so crank it.

2. fry an egg over medium, turning off the heat after you flip it.

3. put a little mayo and Sriracha on both sides of the muffin

4. on goes the egg

5. on go any accoutrements you choose: my favorites are sprouts or Thai basil.

6. eat.

It seems many are not familiar with Sriracha. In LA, it’s on nearly every table to help cheer up bland omelettes, underseasoned burgers, feeble sushi/whathaveyou. In fact, I’m realizing that some of my favorite restaurants offer Tabasco, Tapatio AND Sriracha. I hardly ever open them, because the food so rarely needs anything except gleeful consumption. At home, it’s another story. I douse my food with something red nearly every day.

The motto in Atlanta was “Everything tastes better with Sriracha”, and I find it to be accurate. Start with a small amount, and don’t be afraid to mix it with mayo. It’s a devilishly yummy combination, and what sushi chefs use to make your spicy tuna spicy!

Now about that Popper.

I’ve been using the Popper studies to rehab my arm and refresh my technique. Like Sriracha sauce, Popper is exquisitely spicy. I’ve been trying to stagger through the one I worked on the previous day and then a start new one. To use a football term, I’m doing Popper two-a-days. It’s good for note reading, intonation, ear training, and getting over many cello-y neuroses. To help me with my self-flagellation, I bought Yablonsky’s recording of all 40 studies, and I must admit, it’s becoming quite an edifying routine. Play, listen, play, listen, slow it down, speed it up, go for meticulous perfection, go wildly for the larger gesture, listen some more, slow it down, walk around, do it all over again. I wish I had a studio space that shared no walls, because I practice in a very real way i.e., I work on stuff that does not sound very good right out of the box. In fact, Popper is special that way: even when you’re doing it right, it sometimes has a peculiar sound to it that is not always what one would queue up on the ol’ iPod for a rollicking listen.

Unless you’re me. Alas, like my proclivity for tongue-searing spicy food, whose allure is Capsaicin, a compound that teases pain receptors more than taste buds, I am becoming addicted to Popper. I have gone from a grumbling high schooler who considered quitting at the hands of the deadly Nos.17 and 29 to a starry-eyed fanatic who seeks out passages that sound like absolute garbage to worship at the shrine that is the High School of Cello Studies.

If you are a cellist, and would like to stay a cellist, and would like to be the best cellist possible, resign yourself to these studies, and feel the burn.

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8 Responses

  1. Ok, Ok, I'll admit I have a copy of Popper. And I'll admit that it feels kinda like a super special thing you find in your Grandma's room. And I'll also admit that I'm too scared to start working on it. I keep telling myself "Once I can do that scary clef perfect."

    But (yes, a but), I will take a look at my current (and somewhat ineffective) practice strategy. And I'll start Popper (I'll just pick the ones with out that scary cleft).

    Ok, I'm confessed. Thanks! 😉

  2. Which clef? Tenor or treble? Although the Popper is the deep end of note reading when it comes to clef interchangeability, maybe you should try a new measure a day of something that looks gnarly. Figure out what the notes are, write them (in pencil!!) above the notes, play them an octave or two down a few times to get it in your ear and then try it up at pitch.

    Feel free to email me and we can stumble through a few measures together if you'd like. I'm here to help.

    And since you confessed, so too, shall I.

    I've broken Lent a few times. Sort of. I swore off fast food and candy, and on the second week, I upped it to all pre-fab sweets. But then I ate some atomic fireballs (see? I love spicy things!) and a few girl scout cookies. Still no chocolate and no real candy, but it counts. OH! And I had some pizza to console a grieving friend. Does consolation pizza count? I bet it does. Rats.

    As penance, I will work on all thumb position double stop studies this week.

  3. Awesome! My two favorite things! Popper and Sriracha.

    I'm VERY impressed with you taking notice of when you switch off the heat on the frying pan. That is the little detail that makes it perfect. Along with sprouts, I've been adding a 5 finger pinch of shredded Asiago cheese on top of the egg after I flip it. A good improvement.

    Popper 26 – haven't had time to work on it because I've been busy with Harold in Italy. I hear it #26 crying for my attention though. I will add Popper to my morning meal tomorrow.

  4. I considered the implications of that and still went with it! Fooey. Well, I did give a box of cookies to a student, and that felt penance-y. 🙂

  5. Um, yeah. Sriracha is probably the best thing ever.

    For awhile, all we could afford were pasta noodles, tomato sauce, and that half a bottle of sriracha that was in the fridge. My boyfriend and I came up with this one–cook the noodles (like you're making spaghetti) and just add sriracha to taste to the sauce (while cooking) it adds a nice garlicky flavor, and you get the kick of red pepper.

    I'll definitely be trying that egg sandwich soon :)I add it to mayo when I make a sandwich, most of the time. Mmm Making me hungry 😉

  6. OMG!! We brought Srihacha to Yemen!! That's before we knew that Yemenis had there own version of the same sauce that is slightly better. Not kidding- it's really good stuff.

    I have 3 concerts coming up in May and I am scared stiff. Not even Srihacha will put some bone in my backbone. My director keeps saying, no one even knows what a cello is here. You can play like shit and NO ONE will know. Why doesn't this make me feel better??

  7. I just reread something you read to another poster- you help ONLINE?? I NEED HELP! And courage. (But not srihacha- I think I am ok there).

    I am playing Humoresque as a duet with a REALLY good violinist and I cannot get the shift between the A and D strings clean. It just sounds terrible. Other than endlessly practicing, is there anything else I can do?

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