I am inordinately fond of eggs especially hen’s eggs. From, I don’t remember when I have not eaten eggs most days. Soldiers, with my boiled egg was a nice extra but I didn't them, just the egg. Very little can put me off a food I like. Not even cutting the top of the egg away to find a chick inside. A dead chick obviously as it was a boiled egg.
Well, Mum explained, it would have been a chick, I couldn't recognise it as anything I had ever seen, where the fluffy feathers? Embryonic but still a small chicken. This was before the Lion on the egg, and as we had our own chickens it would have been one of ours anyway.It was a one off as far as I know. I was intrigued at this bizarre looking creature in my egg. How old was I then, well somewhere between 5 and 7, so old enough to be intrigued.
I carried on eating boiled eggs.
Scrambled was a regular supper event, later on I was introduced to omelette's and poached eggs. There was there no end to the versatility of this wondrous food.
As I said, our family kept their own chickens until I was about twelve or thirteen. I don't like chickens, as a bare legged child I found their beaks spiteful and vaguely terrifying. The best part about keeping them, from my point of view, was that twice a year we got to eat a couple. Boxing Day and Easter day. It is hard to remember when chicken was not the mass produced cheap meat that it is now. Or indeed when chickens for the pot were not the soft, underage, tasteless birds they are now.
The nutritional packed little package is a marvel, for pennies a meal is contained within the shells. Very useful for a permanently penniless traveller such as I. When struggling in a bedsit at the end of the week with no money left in the purse, a plateful of Brussels sprouts, seasoned with nutmeg and topped with a poached egg was a blissful supper to curl up with.
At college we would coddle them for the infants (and if we could get away with it for ourselves as well) a perfect little morsel for their rapid growing.
I discovered eggs cook differently depending on altitude when I tried to boil eggs half way up Mt Ararat. All of a sudden I could no longer time my eggs accurately or consistently as the altitude changed each day. And of course they were local eggs which tended to come in smaller than I was used to. The trouble with being a keen cook and a traveller one is constantly having to re-learn basic knowledge:)
After I suffered a bout of dysentery in Kashmir, I found the only food I could keep down or inside long enough for any nutritional benefit, was three hard boiled eggs and four cups of sweet chai. The eggs could be bought from road side sellers, in India. I kept my days supply in a sock hanging from a rail in the bus I was travelling on. Unfortunately with no language in common it was a gamble, occasionally what was being sold was an raw egg not a hard boiled one! A couple of times I ended up having to wash that sock:)
Although I was to try and enjoy many other eggs, duck, goose, plover, quail among other untranslated eggs, marveling at the size and flavour of an ostrich egg, presented at some stranger's barbecue, I always came back to my egg of preference.
Always the chicken's.
I wondered for many years at the difference between methods of cooking, not just the taste and texture but the ability to fill a peckish or hungry gap. Scrambled egg is not as sustaining as an omelette's for instance. The same between a poached egg and a boiled. And fried a completely different experience. Then if one whips an egg white with some sugar, well the delight of the resultant meringue, the melting beautifulness of it all, who would think it?
Even knowing now that it is all to do with chemical reactions between heat,liquid and air and of course some sugar, all that stuff about the jiggling molecules reacting slightly differently has never spoilt the magic, if anything increased my fascination.