Simple. What is simple? Something simple is deemed easy to understand or use, not elaborate nor luxurious.
When I think of simple food, I think of food that doesn’t take much in the way of preparation. Some toast perhaps or a sandwich. A can of soup or a bowl of beans. Or, an egg.
A food in its own hard little case, eggs don’t require refrigeration, lots of money to buy or mind boggling preparation. They are easy to source and nutritious to boot. But, are they quite as simple as they look?
And then how do you prefer it cooked? Boiled, fried, poached, scrambled or omelette. The difference between delicious egg and a disaster is seconds. Drop an egg that is too cold into hot water and it will likely crack, leaking its white albumen to form rubbery ribbons in the water.
Cook for too little time and you end up with a “snotty” egg, cook for too long and you get a hard and paled yolk (which is not too bad for hard-boiled eggs of course), get your vortex wrong for a poached egg and your yolk will be left without its protective snowy envelope.
I firmly believe that poached eggs are one of the hardest things to achieve in the kitchen, almost as hard as a perfectly cooked omelette. On the odd occasion I have tried to make an omelette I have always ended up with a scrambled mess stuck to the bottom of the pan too overloaded with cheese or some other filling – can you even call it filling if it is not inside of something – rather than a silky pocket of egg with a delicious centre.
In all of the cooking books that I own there a few recipes, if any, for omelette. But I knew that there was at least one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. When we visited the Smithsonian in Washington, DC there was a video clip running on loop of Julia vigorously shaking her small omelette pan back and forth over the burner. I was hoping that this was for camera effect but no. It is there in print, and there is no way I am doing that on my new, shiny, induction hob. Deep scratches from a cast iron omelette pan being thrown around in a haphazard manner is not what I fancy at the moment. So, for now at least, the perfect omelette remains a mystery to me.
But it doesn’t matter. My favourite way to eat an egg (free-range of course) is boiled, runny with hot buttered toast. How about you?