Yes, finally it has come to this moment. A discussion that entails sentimentality, thorough elegance, and unwavering good feeling. Yes, we are indeed talking about the humble egg, something so simple and yet so reassuring. Tim Hayward of the Financial Times in his piece ‘Cracked It’, sparked the need to express the admiration for that nostalgic tradition of cooking an egg in all its forms, from a simple scramble to the complex and decedent eggs benedict.
A highly well written and emotive article, but to offer the almost emotional side of making eggs, the twists, the spins, your own personal touch to your soft-boiled egg and soldiers, that is what we are celebrating here.
Whether you are of a traditional ilk that sticks to crusty toast coated with salty butter, layered with your heavy-handed salt and pepper seasoned pillow-like scrambled eggs or a mid-western ranger with your spicy hit of ‘huevos rancheros’, you’re still an aficionado of the egg. From the morning after of great night out, to long lazy lunches and yes even easy dinner time fixes, anytime is a good time for eggs. Most importantly, to make eggs in any form for someone or with someone, to share in the simple act of frying or poaching, is without question an integral part to the hallowed process. In the loose words of the late great, Anthony Bourdain, “stick an egg in most things and it will probably make it better”.
To begin where all great things stem from, a great breakfast. Cereal, porridge, and fruit yoghurt bowls are all fine ways to start your day, but they become boring and stale after a few months of consistent consumption. You want something different, something you know that you will not get tired of making, something that will set your day off just right, going conquer the world or something, or whatever you were procrastinating anyway.
Well, that’s where the timeless breakfast comes in, that being ‘eggs and soldiers. Nobody knows why toasted strips of bread with butter is called ‘soldiers’, frankly, let us leave it a mystery, whoever did first think of it first is without a doubt a cultural and culinary icon. Just 4-minutes in boiling water will give you the perfect soft-boiled egg, with a solid egg white and that liquid gold yoke that hides inside just waiting for you to decapitate the top of egg with your spoon.
Whatever bread is on hand, be it Brennan’s soft pan or your local artisan bakery’s finest sourdough, toast it to get a good crust making sure it does not become soggy. Get some good salty butter and spread every inch of your soldiers to your liking, and last but certainly not least, bury that soldier in that yolky lake of goodness. After a breakfast like that, nothing can stop you, slay a dragon or something, write a poem, your satisfaction will be exceeded.
For the more adventurous of you out there, a dash of Tabasco sauce into your headless egg or with every dunk of your soldiers, is that extra bit of umami that you need to try. Its in those touches, the Tabasco, hummus instead of butter or even, a Gordon Ramsay spin, anchovy butter spread for the more seafood inclined soft boilers. Interact with your eggs and soldiers, work with it, think of it as a much simpler cracking of lobster shells to suck that pure heavenly claw or tail meet out of.
The scrambled egg is everything you ever wanted, consistency, will always be there for you, give it a little effort and you have got yourself the best comfort dish to get you through any bad day or half-hour bad spell. It is a controversial and an almost annoyingly subjective egg form, everyone has got a different style, different process, no salt or with salt, no butter or oil, chives, or no chives, with pancetta or without it etc.
The subjectiveness is probably the beauty of it, but this time maybe just stick with the conventional way. Beat those eggs well until you do not have any of the snot like translucent parts sticking to your whisk, which at which point throw in some salt and pepper. In a shallow pan heat a decent amount of butter on a medium to high heat with a little bit of olive oil thrown in to make sure the butter does not burn and turn brown, once your pan is nicely coated with the melted butter lower the heat and pour in your beaten eggs.
Let the eggs cook for a minute or two, at which point take a plastic spatula and drag from the side of the pan in towards the middle, creating a wave of partial cooked egg. Continuously do this process of pushing into the middle allowing all the egg to cook and I guarantee you you will get the most pillowy and wavey scrambled eggs, so good you must share them with someone.
As always get some good crusty toast with salted butter and pile your scrambled eggs over it, and with that you have a breakfast or quick snack that would make any lost soul feel human again. Show off with it, do your thing and believe me and yourself others will enjoy it too.
So, after all that, how do you like your eggs? Well, that ageless question will most certainly go on with many intriguing answers that make either cringe or become extremely jealous that you did not think of that mix. Either way eggs are special, they are very healthy and nutritious, always will leave you full and most importantly are unique to who you are. After all you are what you eat sometimes. So have an egg for breakfast, have as many as you want, make them for yourself, make them for others, just enjoy doing it, that is what matters.