In the movie, he’s an acclaimed chef and there’s this scene in which he’s fixing himself a snack; it’s a fried egg sandwich. He fries the egg to perfection, puts it on the bread and slices it; the yolk oozes out and he lets out a sigh of pure pleasure, forgetting his domestic troubles for a while.
This sent me scurrying to my frying pan. A fried egg may seem like a mundane thing, but it’s deceptively so. For, done right, it can be a dish that is beautiful to behold, smells most appetising and tastes wonderful in the mouth.
Which is why, it also figures in the imagination of so many writers. In Julian Barnes’s beautifully crafted The History of the World, there is a description of breakfast in heaven and a fried egg is at the centre of it.
Similarly, one of the things that bad boy and hot chef Marco Pierre White describes in his book Devil in the Kitchen is about the complexity of simply frying an egg properly. Can you keep out the craters, he asks. Can you indeed?
And then there is the book on the Parisian chef Bernard Loiseau, who committed suicide unable to live with the prospect of his declining ratings. One of the early discussions in the book by Rudolph Chelminski is about another legendary chef, Fernand Point who was fond of putting visiting chefs on the spot by inviting them to fry an egg of all things! They would, invariably, make a ‘dog’s bed out of it’ as he described it. And then Chef Fernand would proceed to show them the civilised way to do it.
The Point method involved gently, slowly cooking the eggs in butter, more like poaching them in warm fat. The story goes that Loiseau went a step further, cooking the egg in butter in a saucer, over a pot of boiling water.
You don’t have to make it that intricate. But there are some keys to the perfect fried egg:
– The eggs must be as fresh as you can get; and they must be at room temperature.
– Use butter, it’s the best.
– The temperature of the pan should be just right – neither too hot, nor too cool.
A perfectly fried egg is a delight in itself. But if you wish to dress it up some more, top it with either finely chopped chives or black truffle shavings for a gourmet treat.