This is part 3 of the 5-part series on Tastes Like Home August Holidays. We quenched our thirst with pineapple drink in part one, and last week, in part 2, we brought backyard cooking indoors by roasting breadfruit on the stovetop. This week, we’re frying eggs.
The story of these fried eggs is one where the student has become the teacher. My best friend forever (BFF) was home in Barbados for the summer months. Each morning she would light up the kitchen with the aroma of her breakfast cooking away on the stove – two fried eggs, occasionally accompanied with bacon or ham. I never paid much attention to my pal’s cooking until one morning when I saw a mound of tenderly fried eggs – soft curds of white and yellow mixed together intermittently dotted with bits of scallion. The eggs were piled onto a slice of bread, some of it spilling on to the plate. The other slice of bread lay waiting to form a sandwich. “Oh my gosh Sue! Those are some good-looking eggs!” I exclaimed. “Where did you learn to cook eggs like that?” I asked. She gave me a look that said that I should know the answer. But I didn’t. Really. Sue said, “You taught me how fry eggs like this.” I was genuinely surprised because I know that I could not recall the last day I cooked such fine-looking eggs. I said, “Please teach me how to cook my eggs like this Sue.”
She explained: “I put a little oil in the pan, and put it on low heat; I then crack the eggs into the cold pan and when the whites start to cook, I stir it [the eggs]. I do what you told me and add the salt at the end [of the cooking].”
It seems simple enough right? Not so. I made several attempts over a 2-week period and no time it did not turn out exactly like Sue’s fried eggs. I believe I was over thinking it. The first time I started to mix the eggs before the whites begin to cook. On another occasion I did not fully cook the eggs wanting to ensure that the rich yellow of the yolk remained bright. On yet another occasion, I did not scramble/mix the eggs enough so there were large pieces instead of small pieces of the eggs. Sue’s fried eggs were fully cooked; often, I found myself undercooking my eggs to get the results she had with hers. As simple as it seems, eggs can be difficult to cook, especially when you are after a certain look, texture and state of doneness. I wasn’t about to give up. It was clear that I had lost a skill; I wanted to reclaim it.
One morning I came close to making the eggs like Sue’s but the texture was not right and the cooked yolks in my eggs always looked dull.
We were accessing the same tray of eggs so how come hers were bright yellow and mine, not? I discovered “the secret” by accident. I had just finished frying the eggs, plating them and turned to make my tea and butter some bread. By the time I assembled the tray to take out to the verandah, I noticed that my eggs had deepened in colour – the yellow of the yolks, bright, rich with colour. I figured that I needed to let the eggs rest a little before digging in. Now that I had the colour situation figured out, it was time to fry some more eggs.
On my next attempt, I let the eggs cook a little too long before scrambling so it did not break up as it should.
The following day, with Sue’s directions clear in my head, I set about frying the eggs – I waited until the white started to cook and then I did a slow stirring motion breaking up the yolks in the process and mixing it with the whites. Using the edge of the rubber spatula, I broke up the eggs into small bits. The results were not exactly as my friend’s but they were pretty close. I have to keep at it.
I have become so accustomed to having my eggs the way I prefer them – sunny side up or over easy that I’ve de-skilled myself in the making of fried eggs. I can make topnotch (if I may say so myself) creamy scrambled eggs and layered fried eggs with cheese – these are more complicated and temperamental to cook, yet, I am having difficulty with the task of simple fried eggs.
This past August holidays was also about re-learning how to do certain things.
Next week: Soursop Custard Block