It starts fifteen minutes before they’re ready with a light airy smell that lays siege to the entire house. Hostages, we are, to the effervescent waves of egg batter churning under intense heat to form the signature Popover scent. Crunchy, flaky and golden brown on the outside; soft, moist and hollow on the inside; this muffin-shaped delight is a special occasion every weekend for dinner.
The popover is the American version of Yorkshire pudding that’s been around since 1850. However, my first encounter with the popover came six years ago at a Neiman Marcus restaurant in Paramus. The bread was so buttery and flaky that when the waiter came around with seconds and thirds, I readily took them, becoming an addict within minutes of my first taste of ambrosia. Since then, my life has changed for the better (though with more carbs).
I select my popover on the basis of appearance, and when no one is looking, by weight (the lighter and more hollow, the better). If I thought the smell was enrapturing before, it’s nothing compared to the moment I open the bread and see the hollow inside held from wall to wall. I always salivate before my first bite of the crunchy exterior mixed with the moist interior and gasp in the glow of its perfection.
The popover is the first food I eat and the only food on my plate. Once I finish the popover, I attempt to eat the salmon or the green beans, but the majority of my time is spent eyeing my next popover and praying that no one takes it as I skillfully move food around my plate.
In the height of conversation, when the family is most distracted, I select my next popover. However, my elation soon gives me away, and I am subsequently yelled at for not eating my salmon and beans. But that’s routine.
The total prep and cooking time is approximately 3.5 hours, but I can assure you that it’s well worth the wait. It’s what I look forward to every weekend. It’s the day I invite just one friend over for dinner (because I can’t bear to share). It’s the meal served on every birthday, holiday, and special occasion. And it’s the meal that no one wastes (or else incur the family’s wrath that, rightfully, rises from the buttery bread).