Are your eggs brown or white? How long do you boil an egg? Hard-boiled or soft? Should the yolk be broken on a fried egg? Do you fry the egg in lots of oil or not? The egg issues are endless… I have never understood people who say “I can’t even boil an egg” – I know how to cook, but when it comes to boiling an egg, I struggle!
Yesterday we had a very interesting egg discussion while making a simple dinner; first our Irish visitor B was shocked to see that our eggs were white! I know that somebody else has reacted to our white eggs, it might have been my mother – but it wasn’t because she hasn’t seen white eggs, it was more a reflection in the lines of Oh, we never have white eggs anymore or something similar… So, in Ireland eggs are apparently only brown.
But how do the eggs get their colour – is it depending on the type of hen, the food she eats or…? Our instinct told us that it must be due to the hen and I just confirmed that this is correct by doing a google search – hens with brown / red feathers lay brown eggs, and the white hens lay white eggs. Easy peasy… But then, what’s the difference between a chicken and a hen? Is a hen a chicken or a chicken a hen?? And what’s the difference between a rooster and a cock? Apparently rooster is American, Australian and Canadian English for a cock, females over one year are hens and the babies are called chicks – chicken is the meat! Phew, lots of poultry-related issues have been straigthened out thanks to Wikipedia 😀
Regardless of the outside colour of the egg and who is laying it, did the guests want their eggs hard or soft? Well, then the Spaniard got involved – what’s the difference between a hard-boiled and a soft-boiled egg?? I thought that he was joking… apparently not and he felt a little insulted that we didn’t take his question seriously! I tried to explain and said that of course you must distinguish if the egg is soft or hard? Nope, a boiled egg is a boiled egg in Spain (or at least according to O!)…
In France (and other French-speaking countries such as Belgium and Switzerland) oeuf à la coque is a typical children’s dinner – I remember thinking as an au-pair that it seemed very bland and boring but the children loved it.
Oeuf à la coque*
1 egg per person
a few slices of white bread, preferably baguette
Put the egg in boiling water and boil it for 3 minutes (traditional timing) or 4,5 minutes (modern timing as the eggs tend to be bigger nowadays)**. The yolk is supposed to be runny and the white half coagulated.
Serve the egg in an egg cup and dip pieces of bread in the soft-boiled egg (add some salt if you’d like). Voilà, a traditional French meal!
When I was a child, the holiday preparations included not just packing but also egg frying! We would always travel by car to the continent – leaving early in the morning, catching the ferry from Limhamn to Dragör in Denmark and then head towards Hamburg where our Swedish-German friends lived. After Hamburg the destinations varied – Switzerland, France, Great Britain… But one thing was sure, the fried egg sandwiches were always eaten by the side of the road somewhere in Denmark:
Childhood egg sandwiches
1 egg per person
slices of dark bread
Fry the eggs (broken egg yolk or not, lots of oil or little, sunny side up or not – the way you like them!). Spread some butter on the slices of dark bread, place a piece of iceberg lettuce and the fried egg on top and pack for the pic-nic. My childhood pic-nic sandwiches! 😀
*) Oeuf à la coque literally means egg in the shell but usually refers to the soft-boiled eggs eaten with bread as in the recipe.
**) Timings according to a Wikipedia post in French.