Whilst I do take eggs seriously when it comes to eating them, like any other foodstuff, I love to investigate the origin of what we eat and why we eat it, including topics such as ’20 fun facts about eggs’. I don’t know why, but I spend time once a month teaching primary school children about food, its healthy qualities etc., but make it fun. I am told by the Principle of the school that she has never known children to have such memory retention after my lesson, for several days afterwards! They call me ‘the mad cooking lady’! I quite love it and it proves that even whether a child is a super-brain or not, make it fun, be crazy – it truly works! Accompanied by a few magic or scientific tricks, it really keeps them entertained.
When I was at culinary school in Paris, we were not allowed to progress unless we could cook eggs in three different ways, we chose which way we wanted to do them and they had to be a perfect cook – harder than you think! Students giggled and thought it was going to be a breeze…. little did they know as I watched them, time after time, having their culinary perfection thrown in the bin with a flourish and a good deal of muttering by chef. ‘Repete’ he would shout indiscreetly, and everyone’s head would turn, open-mouthed, as they realised that their culinary creation could be next for ‘the chop’. Chef was the epitome of putting the fear of God into everyone’s minds!
The Serious Business of Eggs
Eggs are a serious matter, so let’s cut to the chase. Frying, baking, boiling, scrambling, poaching, making tarts, quiches et al, all have an element of difficulty. I know what you are thinking (Frying eggs? How can that be tricky? Baking cakes? Everyone loves your cakes). But just because they love something you cook, doesn’t mean they are perfect! But our dear oval-headed, protein and vitamin packed egghead, is a smart cookie (sorry about the baking pun).
Eggs provide shape and form by using their proteins to make everything stick together, but still be light and airy, similar to how gluten behaves. Great bakers have ‘cracked’ that solution! Too many eggs in a mix will, however, make a cake heavy and just one round sweet lump of a munch. Too many of todays’ cakes suffer from this as well as over-beating and over-whisking, and maybe that’s what Bob the Builder likes, but give me a soft, light and mouth-watering choccie version and I am all yours. I prefer not to use my teeth as a pneumatic drill!
The Benefits of Eggs
Eggs do have amazing benefits though, providing high quality protein, vitamins, folates and maintaining ‘good cholesterol’. They help in weight maintenance and are healthy foodstuffs to keep in your diet. Like anything else, keep your consumption balanced and you will reap the benefits.
I was taught by a master chef. He was tough, but fair. If you are going to learn or have a great cooking career, you must come from the school of hard knocks and take it with style. One day he took me to one side and read me the riot act about something I had done without passion, but he became my mentor for five years. Classical training to start with is the foundation to being a goddess in the kitchen.
A fun fact but apparently true – every morning at school we witnessed the same ritual. Chef Claude was one of those pristinely presented men, who took tremendous pride in his ‘whites’, particularly his enormous hat which used to bewitch me as it stood tall and proud (just like him). I had never seen a hat with so many perfectly crisp pleats in it. When I knew him well, I asked him one day why it had so many pleats in it. He gave a wry smile and said ‘when you learn to cook eggs to perfection in every way, you will gain your pleats’. I later found out that this is a built-in tradition of the French.
His hat had 20 pleats… put it this way, I am not going to tell you how far I got!