Friday, 24 May 2013

Some wittering on eggs, poached or fried?


Fried eggs are currently off the menu for breakfast at home. Which is a damn shame because sweet Lord, I loves a fried egg. After all, what can beat the sensation of deftly cracking an oeuf on the side of the pan and extravagantly sliding it into hot, spitting fat and flinging the broken shells behind your back. Certainly beats any other snap, crackle and pop. And that's just for starters.

The instant transformation from glaze to white as the albumen spreads is quite a joy to watch; a mishaped puddle that begins to pulsate, bubble and jump about like flat scorched feet on boiling sand. Sometimes, scalding oil will splash up from the paddling pool and blister a thick thumb; the shock of which is quickly soothed by sucking baby-like, before covering with a tea towel.

A fish slice appears and gently nudges the edges, testing the teflon and whoosh, off it slides to the other side. Tipping back into the center, keen eyes pay attention on the deep yellow; the gooey bullseye, which must not, on any account, become solid. The second the last vestiges of transparent jelly disappear from around the yolk, it is then time to whip the fried egg out. For fear of any crusty, crispy, rebellious border. For that would be sacrileage and so must be policed with impunity.

Once done, it is simply a case of plopping onto some buttered toast, butter that has melted and seeped downwards into fine Chorleywood crumb. A liberal shake of Lea & Perrins with a healthy dose of salt and pepper and bang, you are done. Well, nearly. The whole thing needs to be smashed into oblivion with a fork before diving headfirst in.

But like I said, lovely fried eggs are off the menu in an effort to counter to an increasing, bulging tyre that is filling out my midrift, like Saturn's ring. Only more bulbous. So I have reverted to poaching eggs instead, which involves so it seems a entirely different alchemy altogether. When I asked Twitter what the best methods were, the reaction exploded all over my monitor, like a rotten egg hurled from a distance.

The biggest bone of contention was whether to vinegar the water or not. Some people were still in favour of the method, citing science and mother-knows best. But essentially, you only need to acidify H2O if your eggs are old. If you have fresh eggs, you don't have to worry. I find the whole fresh egg mantra quite funny actually. You see it everywhere in recipes, books and on the tellybox.

"Make sure you use the freshest eggs most humanly possible, known to mankind. As fresh as water sprung from a mountain spring. As fresh as the wind that roars the Great Steppes. Fresher than a pair new Y-fronts, straight out of a pack of three, from the shelf at M&S."

Fresh eggs. Well, we've been getting fresh eggs for ages haven't we. As in the words of one curmudgeon on Twitter who said (and I paraphrase here) - "You can bitch all you like about supermarkets but the one decent thing that they have done with the supply line is to make sure that the public get fresh eggs."

I think you can get fresher though. If say we were to keep chickens in the garden, a quick scoop up first thing in the morning and then a crack and plonk into a simmering pan. Now that would be fresh. You could go even further and try gently squeezing Henrietta over the same pan before she gets her morning egg-blutions out of the way.

However, that would be strange and most likely, most terrifying for the poor hen. Her nightmares that one day, she will be destined for the pot, would all come true in one singular, horrifying, existential moment. And I wouldn't want to wish that on any poor bird.

But after a few years, when she becomes straggly and tough and past her best?

Well OK then, maybe.

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