Wednesday, April 16, 2008
An Egg Is An Egg Is An Egg
There have been too many art posts on FBC! recently, and many more to come, so I thought you needed a bit of a pause. Food pause, to be more precise. It's Spring, a bit late for Easter recipes or such like, but a few recent discussions with friends about eggs got me thinking.
First of all, I want to debunk the (presumably US) food myth that was served to me on the night of the Kaprow opening by the few friends I was with: eggs don't contain fat. What they contain that is bad for you is cholesterol. Which isn't a lipid.
I was aghast when all these well-meaning people told me eggs were very, very fatty, as in France , if you happen not to have a cholesterol problems, eggs are touted as the perfect health food, especially if you eat them boiled. So I double-checked in a few food books I have and on a few nutrition websites, and here you are: no fat in egg yolks (or white).
Anyway, eggs are among my favorite food stuff on earth, but I regularly fail at making good omelets or scrambled eggs, I suppose because I love my eggs very runny. It's OK, because I like my eggs very simple, so I'm not going to give you a recipe for oeufs en meurette, but just tell you how to make perfect soft-boiled eggs, the French way.
First of all, we don't eat eggs for breakfast in France, and soft-boiled eggs tend to be the thing you eat at dinner when you don't have a blasted idea what to cook. Usually we eat a simple salad of greens with it, a few fruits for dessert, and that's it.
But what is very, very important, is that we eat mouillettes with our eggs: strips of sliced baguette that we dip into the yolk. It's divine.
Some people like to make it fatty by buttering their mouillettes, or dunking strips of sliced ham in the yolk, or adding some salmon roe (FYI: all fish roes are not caviar. Caviar is sturgeon roe and only that). It's more luxurious, but I tend to see it as a way to ruin a perfectly good runny yolk.
Now there are many ways to screw up something as simple as soft-boiled eggs: cook them 10 seconds too long and the yolk will be overcooked, take them out 10 seconds too early and the whites are translucently repulsive. Do you have to let your eggs at room temperature before cooking them (the answer is yes, for 10 minutes)? Should you salt the water (no) or put vinegar in it to prevent breakage (it doesn't work and your egg tastes like vinegar)? At what time should you sink them into the water, when it's simmering, boiling? For how long?
So after many years of trial and errors, I've found the perfect way to cook soft-boil eggs. It's better to cook only 2 at a time, otherwise some of them will be overcooked.
First, go to La Maison du Pain to buy one of their ficelles (plain). Once in possession of your precious egg accomplice, cut it horizontally in approximately 1 1/2 inches logs. Then slice these logs lengthwise in strips. Put these in a cute glass or container, pour faire plus joli.
Take your egg cups out of the cupboard. During all the time these preparations took, you took 2 eggs out of the fridge and let them come up at room temperature. Put them in a small pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Check the pot, as you have to count down exactly 2 minutes once the water reaches boiling point. When your timer scares the Beejeezus out of your cat, switch off the gas, retrieve your 2 precious eggs out of the water and put them in the egg holders. Immediately remove the 2 egg tops: if you don't do this they will keep on cooking and the yolks will harden.
Dunk your mouillettes into the yolk, eat, have a glass of wine and enjoy the perfection of life. Merci qui? Merci Frenchy!