The perfect egg

Getting home on Friday night to find this:

Beast: Oh hey there. Guess what I’m doing.

Foodie: I knew what you were doing as soon as I walked in the front door. You know that shoe polish stinks, right? I’m opening up some windows.

Beast: I’ve been meaning to polish my shoe collection for so long now. This feels great.

Foodie: Wait a second; what are you wearing? Did you just take a t-shirt, make it into a tank top and use the scrap bits for shoe-shining?

Beast: That’s exactly what I did.

Foodie: Look how muscular your arms look!

Beast (flexing): I just worked out. And please don’t go upstairs. You will flip out if you see the bedroom.

Foodie: Fine. Are you going to start concentrating now on your skinny little legs in your workouts?

Beast: Listen, I’m not going to fatten up my legs just so you can feel better about your legs and your body image.

Foodie: My legs are NOT FAT!

Beast: I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have had three gin and tonics after my work-out.

Foodie: Truth?

Beast: Why didn’t you tell me you had a Miu Miu belt?


I didn’t flip out over the state of the bedroom, which the Beast converts into a gym three or four times a week. He’s usually very good about putting everything away. However, there is a part of me, mostly the olfactive part, that wishes he’d just get a gym membership.

This morning, I offered to make us some soft-boiled eggs and toast. It’s the simplest of breakfasts, and one that I had to look up in a cookbook. That’s right: I don’t know how to boil an egg.  More precisely, I always forget how to boil an egg so that it comes out with a firm white part, with no snotty bits, and a golden, runny–but not too runny–yolk.

I turned to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything first. But you had to poke a hole into the egg first. It was just too complicated. Next I looked up “soft-boiled egg” in my Canadian Living cookbook. I liked the sounds of this one better: bring some eggs to a boil and then continue to boil them for another four to five minutes. Done.

My favourite part about having a soft-boiled egg is putting into my favourite egg cup; a little Bunnykins Royal Doulton one that I’ve had since I was a kid.

Almost as exciting as the cup (which I don’t actually use to hold the egg since every egg I put in there just sinks to the bottom of the cup–have eggs gotten smaller?)  is the anticipation of cutting the top off of the egg to reveal that golden goodness inside.

I overdid the eggs, on account of not paying attention to the clock.  No matter; we each dressed up our breakfast in our own unique ways. The Beast mashed his eggs in a bowl and doused them with salt and pepper.

While I chose a more decorous presentation.

It was such a nice way to start the day. Later on, the Beast retired to the living room and I to the dining room, which also doubles as my study.

Beast (yelling): COME IN HERE AND BE WITH ME!

Foodie: NO!

Beast: PLEASE?

Foodie (going into the living room and finding the Beast in a mint green house coat curled up on the couch): Are you trying to look cute on purpose?

Beast: Who, me? I’m just listening to Duke Ellington and reading about totalitarianism. Care to join?

Foodie: Ah, I’d love to but I have to get in a few hours of work, and if I don’t do it now, I’m a goner.

Beast: I’m going to watch Shoah later?

Foodie: Is that supposed to tempt me to stay?

Beast: Please?!?!

Maybe next Saturday. And there’s a prize for anyone who can give me the simplest-to-remember, fool-proof instructions on how to soft/medium boil an egg.

Foodie: **1/2

Beast: **

6 responses to “The perfect egg

  1. ummm, use a timer?

  2. I have looked up the instructions for hard-boiled eggs about six times, which is pretty embarrassing. I would blame the interweb for corrupting my long-term mental storage for important facts, but it is merely acting in its own best interest–creating the conditions that make its long term survival more likely. But I digress. I find Bittman’s instructions to poke a hole in the egg before boiling it terrifying. Every time I do it I feel like I am in a spy movie trying to defuse a bomb, trying to work that pin through the shell without having the egg explode in my hands. Nerve-wracking as hell, and the pin hurts my fingertips. I may have to get a thimble and keep it in my kitchen drawer. That’s not wimpy, is it? I just have very soft hands.

  3. Wait, I was just reading those tweet things in your sidebar, and it appears that while you are having coffee with this @best_revenge person you are actually tweeting observations to each other about things that are happening three feet away. Have you ever heard of whispering? It is like talking, but a bit quieter, and it was invented a long time ago for exactly that kind of situation. Try it. It works without making Chinese factory workers’ fingers fall off, or damming up a river and then grinding up the salmon to make electricity.

    Also, middle-aged men in lycra are what make cafés the vibrant cultural centers they are. You are welcome.

    • Leave @best-revenge out of this. I hadn’t yet reached the café in question, hence our communication via the Twitter. She was good enough to provide me with a play-by-play, so I wouldn’t be shocked by the MAMILs.

  4. here is what nigella says:
    And no, I’m not going to give a recipe for a boiled egg, but I do feel it’s worth reminding you that if the egg is fridge-cold it should go into the pan along with the cold water when you put it on the stove, but if it’s at room temperature – which is better – you should lower it into the water once it’s started boiling. How long you want to cook it for is obviously up to you, but a beautiful, oozingly golden yolked egg had 4 minutes, as indeed mine does every morning. I also throw in a matchstick – rather than the teaspoon of vinegar or salt that some people swear by – but just because my great aunt always did and told me that it stopped the white cloudy substance flowing out should the egg crack while cooking. I think it does work, but I do it because I’ve always done it, not because I have scientific proof that it’s effective.

  5. Julia Child says:

    For an egg with a set white and soft yolk, lower the eggs into boiling water and boil slowly for:
    6 minutes (U.S.large size)
    61/2 minutes (U.S. extra large)
    7 minutes (Jumbo size)
    Add 1 minute extra if eggs are from the fridge.
    As soon as the time is up, drain off the boiling water and run cold water into the pan for a minute to set the white and stop cooking.

    I say, do as she says with the eggs that you buy regularly, and use them from the fridge, ’cause most of us store our eggs in the fridge. Then adjust in 30 second increments till you get them how you like them. Once the time is up, you really must use cold water to stop the cooking if you want to keep the yolk soft and dip-able.

    Funny, when I think about my childhood, my mom managed to make us consistently perfect boiled eggs with buttered toast fingers to dip in them. She knew how to cook nothing when she married, she had one cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, and no Internet.
    I know a lot about eggs yet I still mess them up most of the time.

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