1917 Snack Recipe Cheggion

If you’ve seen Sam Mendes deeply affecting WW1 film 1917 set in northern France, you may be interested in this recipe. It comes from the daughter of a soldier who had been stationed in neighbouring Belgium, in Ypres, during the conflict of 1917.

The local farmers invited the soldiers into their homes regularly and made them “cheggion” – as the men came to call it: it was made with cheese, egg and onion. This must have been a bright spot for both parties in such bleak times.

Her father loved it so much he would often ask his wife to make for him once he was installed safely back at home. It is lovely: try it yourself and see.

  • Quantities are approximate, for 2 generous servings you will need:
  • 1 smallish onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon oil or a little less
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 slices bread, not too thickly cut, so they fry and toast crisply
  • 50g (2oz) grated Cheddar cheese
  • White pepper to taste, chopped parsley, optional

Fry the onions in a little oil until soft and golden. Blot with kitchen paper and set aside.

Whisk the eggs and milk together in a shallow dish. Add a bit of pepper if you like.

Dip both sides of the bread in the egg mixture and fry until golden: the pan should be moderately hot and just lightly greased.

Top with the onions and cheese and toast under a preheated grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Scatter with chopped parsley if available.

Serve immediately with a pot of strong coffee or tea.

Leftover Egg Yolks Tip

If you have any egg yolks left over after making meringues or macaroons for example, use them up in this recipe or for any other kind of French toast aka gypsy toast, fairy toast or eggy bread: it will be extra golden and delicious. Use the same number of egg yolks with just a splash of extra milk.