Fried egg sandwich. This was part of my mother’s special repertoire of private treats. A ritual, quasi-religious. Creamed corn eaten right out of the can or dumped into a bowl, a splash of milk added, spooned up as she read the newspaper or a paperback novel. A tall, chilled glass of milky, sweet iced coffee, tasting of dessert, the ice cubes making that intriguing, adult clatter as she drank (stolen sips when her back was turned; scolded for the attempt). One single baked sweet potato. And a fried egg sandwich. A pillow of egg scooped from the pan and placed steaming in the center of one slice of white bread. A squirt or two of red, red ketchup, deeper crimson than my flushed, envious cheeks. A second slice of soft bread edged in brown, a sharp knife movement creating two perfectly even triangles – a sandwich always cut on the angle. She kept these adamantly, diligently to herself.
Did my passionate desire for fried egg sandwiches grow out of the forbidden nature of such an adult pleasure? Such provocation was her making this sandwich in front of me. Such delicious intrigue in the single serving, the one-egg frying pan, the childlike smear of pungent ketchup. So bewitching the sensual texture of the fluffy bread, the ice cold, savory sweet surprise of the ketchup against the warmth of the egg, the utter blandness of the egg, the pop of the omelet as one bites down into the whole. Such an intoxicating delight was this most simple of foods. And I craved nothing more.
Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes.
– George Bernard Shaw
Green Eggs and Ham. The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg. The Most Wonderful Egg in the World. How much magic in an egg. Smooth and perfectly shaped, pristine white or milk-chocolate brown. Speckled or pale Easter blue. Stories one after the other of the magic of the ordinary egg rendered less ordinary by stupendous powers, spectacular beauty or uncommon value. Two little boys, wide-eyed with wonder, singing the splendor of green eggs and ham I do not like them Sam I am.
Dotty had the most beautiful feathers. Stalky had the most beautiful legs. And Plumy had the most beautiful crest. But which of them was the most beautiful? The three hens went to the king. "Whichever one of you lays the most wonderful egg I will make a princess," he proclaimed.
– Helme Heine, The Most Wonderful Egg in the World.
My sons had storybooks galore filled with tales of special eggs, but my own favorite wasn’t to be found in the pages of a book. It was true to life, the tale of a handsome young man, clever and adventurous. The secret story of the Prince’s eggs. The young man, straight out of school, finds himself in charge of the Prince’s precious ostrich eggs. The King’s brother oversaw a farm of the beloved birds, bred them for pleasure, adored the graceful flightless monsters. The young man was put in charge of the newly laid eggs, overseeing their incubation, making sure no harm came to the treasure before they turned into birds, much like a frog turning into a prince.
One day, the absentminded young man inadvertently placed his morning coffee mug on one of the incubators. And forgot about it. The following morning, he arrived to work and found the Prince’s emissary standing in the doorway of the building, arms crossed, furious. He explained that somehow all of the Prince’s ostrich eggs had cooked. Hard boiled. Mysteriously. A coffee cup placed on the temperature gauge. Lips pinched, eyes like slits, the emissary sent the embarrassed young man packing.
I became a scrambled egg lover in the early eighties when I spent a summer in London doing nothing more than enjoying life. I lived in a hostel for young women where I shared a room with two office girls, Janet and Kim. They were very different from one another and I bonded with Janet who was a very exuberant, chatty and alive kind of person, a true party girl! One Saturday morning, that kind of day after the evening before that sometimes can happen, we went out shopping but suddenly felt the urgent need to eat. She took me to a dingy, plastic cafe which didn't promise anything when you walked in but it was there I found my scrambled egg nirvana: creamy, sweet and with a perfect buttery feel to them.
ILVA'S SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH HERBS AND FRIED TOAST
1 large or 2 small servings
2 tbsp fresh cream
1 tsp chopped fresh herbs, I used oregano, marjory, sage and thyme
a pinch of salt
high quality butter
Slice the bread and cut off any hard edges. Melt the butter in a skillet and fry the bread on both sides.
Mix eggs, cream, herbs and salt lightly, not too much.
Melt a generous knob of butter in a non-stick pan, pour in in the eggs and start stirring with a wooden spoon over low heat. Stir continuously and take the pan from the heat while it is a little creamier or looser than you want it; it will continue to cook in the skillet once off the heat.
Serve the scrambled eggs with the fried bread.