Word of the Day / Shakshuka

This hearty regional breakfast favorite made of eggs, tomatoes, and a slew of other ingredients is also a euphemism for unholy alliances between the public and private sector.

Shakshuka is either a dish of eggs slowly poached in a peppery bed of tomato sauce with olive oil and spices, or unholy ties between Big Business and government.

How's that? Today's restaurants offer a wide variety on the theme, for example adding sausage, meat, tuna, spicy Italian or Spanish styles, and even tomato-free creamy variations with feta, spinach and nutmeg. All involve a lot of ingredients - a bit of this and a bit of that - and long, slow cooking.

There are any number of helpful recipes on the Internet to inspire your imagination. Certainly, the dish ignited the minds of journalist Miki Rosenthal and director Ilan Abudi, who saw it as the defining image for their documentary about cozy ties between Big Government and Big Business. Their award-winning film, "Shitat Hashakshuka" – "The Shakshuka Method", claimed the prominent, prolific Ofer family had concocted sweetheart deals with the government.

Why did Rosenthal and Abudi name their movie after a steaming egg dish?

Asked how prices were calculated for companies the family bought from the government, a lawyer negotiating on the Ofers' behalf commented that they took the various offers and made a shakshuka out of them.

And there you have it. Steaming-hot eggy concoction, or contrarian emblem of foul, unkosher deals cooked up in smoky backroom dealing: the shakshuka.

Shoshana Kordova will resume enlightening and entertaining Word of the Day readers on October 9.