‘Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken,’ so said the great culinary philosopher M.F.K. Fisher.
And she was right.
Boiling an egg is one of the most clandestine operations it is possible to undertake in the kitchen. Normal rules and regulations make a hasty retreat and you are left with only luck and judgement for company. And what fickle mistresses they are.
It used to be said of people who were hopelessly inept in the kitchen that they ‘couldn’t even boil an egg.’ A badly worded bon mot if there ever was one.
Few dishes can give the eater such anticipation and disappointment in the merest quiver of time. The expectation that rises up when faced with a smooth shell, too hot to touch and just waiting to be bashed in with the back of the spoon.
Will it be cooked enough? Will it be runny enough to dip in a buttered soldier of bread and see the yolk dribble down the shell? Or will it be a searing disappointment, bullet hard and impossible to smear over toast?
But when it goes right, when all the factors come together, it creates a food moment of such profound perfection that you can’t help but smile.
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