Lights Camera English!

Take 49: English Breakfast


To answer a question I’m frequently asked: no… we don’t eat English breakfast every day. Or even every weekend. But nothing beats a hangover like a good old fry up! All that saturated fat!

One thing you’ll likely hear during the making of an English Breakfast is “How do you like your eggs?”

I learned at an early age, that “on the plate” was not a satisfactory answer to this question. So perhaps it will be helpful to look at all the various different acceptable answers (and what on earth they mean!).

1. Hard-boiled eggs are cooked inside their shell in a pot of boiling water till both the white and yolk of the egg is hard. Once cool, you crack the shell and peel the egg before slicing, chopping, or just popping into your mouth! Common hard-boiled egg recipes would be egg mayonnaise and devilled eggs.

2. Soft-boiled eggs are prepared the same way but they are cooked for less time so that the white and the yolk are still runny.  Then they are served sitting in a special little cup, ready for you to crack open with a spoon and scoop out into your mouth. I remember one of my favourite light meals as a child was “soldiers” – which was a soft-boiled egg served with buttered toast that had been cut into sticks for dipping into the yolk. Ah, food memories!

3. Scrambled eggs are easy to make. You just crack some eggs into your pan along with some oil or butter and mix the yolk and the white together as they cook. I remember my mother sometimes adding milk for a lighter texture.

4. Omelettes are similar but after a mixing the yolks and whites, you let them stabilise into a structure and then you top with things like cheese, onion, mushrooms… anything really. An omelette is usually served folded in half, so the extra ingredients are in a little pouch. Some people prefer an egg-white omelette, which means they only use the whites of the eggs.

5. Fried eggs come in two ways. Eggs that are prepared by cracking an egg into a hot pan with oil or butter and letting them sit there until cooked, are called Sunny Side Up. The other technique is to observe when the edges of the egg start going brown, and flipping it over, so the top is now on the bottom. Depending on preference, you can have these served “over easy” (a light film covers the yolk), “over medium” (a thicker film covers the yolk), or “over hard” (both the white and the yolk are thoroughly cooked).

5. Poached eggs are my favourite, but I find them quite difficult to make. For these, you crack your egg into boiling water (sometimes a little vinegar helps, or to stir the water into a whirlpool) and let them cook like this. The yolk should be runny and still contained within the white, which should be cooked. A common way to serve poached eggs is on toasted muffins, with a bit of bacon or spinach, and a huge portion of hollandaise sauce. Delicious!

So, now you’ve been prepped for one of your most important questions should you ever visit England. Let’s give it a go…

How do you like your eggs?

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