Appam are the lacy, fermented-rice pancakes enjoyed in southern India, but in Sri Lanka, they’re called hoppers. The name apparently came from English colonialists mis-hearing the word for rice, which is pronounced “ah-pay,” hence “hoppers.” Regular hoppers are bowl-shaped breads that are eaten for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. String hoppers are wads of rice noodles made from the same dough.
But what we have below is one of the Strange Snacks of the World: a hopper into which an egg has been annealed. I’ve had the dish at Sri Lankans in Staten Island and Manhattan, where, in the standard ensemble of four hoppers, every fourth one comes with an egg, and the egg is cooked hard. But at Bownie in south Flushing, you can order the egg hoppers separately ($2 each), and the egg is runny enough to make a glorious mess of the bread. It certainly makes a couple of egg hoppers a filling meal. 143-05 45th Avenue, Flushing, Queens, 718-463-8621
Jiggle, jiggle, swish! goes the egg hopper at Bownie (click to expand).
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 13, 2009