I can barely bring myself to eat chicken. As long as it is shrink-wrapped and in breast form, with no evidence that the pale skin-coloured meat was ever attached to a living creature, I can just about cook it. The whole notion of the headless chicken, the satanic beast which is nearly impossible to kill, being worthy of my gullet is one of life’s conundrums. But its eggs? You’ve got to be joking.
I’m told that when I was very young, before I knew any better, I would eat boiled eggs all day long. Gradually, I came to my senses. I lost interest in scrambled egg, then boiled eggs. We were never posh enough to poach anything, and certainly not an egg. Then, inexplicably, I decided I could stomach the yolk of a fried egg, so the white had to be surgically removed by the commis chef’s second in the scullery. Eventually, I gave up. I now only eat eggs that have been converted into cakes or puddings.
I remember my first ever flu jab. It’s one of the jabs you cannot have if you are allergic to egg. I am not allergic, I simply loathe them. I recalled a five minute philosophical debate with an over-worked nurse about how I detested the little buggers but they wouldn’t cause me to contract mankind’s most hated winter ailment.
During and after the second world war, eggs were in short supply. I have no idea why. Unless you were able to keep chickens, in which case you could eat eggs until you clucked, you had to buy a box of dried and powdered slime which you then re-hydrated and ate with eyes closed. I happily would have sold my egg ration to any spiv who asked.
Until just a few months ago, UK eggs came with a health warning. If not cooked right through, their latent salmonella would kill you and your family given half a chance. It has taken around 40 years to eradicate this bacteria from UK chickens. It cost a cabinet minister her job. Was it really worth the bother? Eating a cooked egg makes you, in my eyes, suspect. Eating runny or raw eggs is a very deep character stain from which you will not recover my admiration, no matter who you are.
Somewhere very far away, certain individuals eat fertilised eggs, complete with chicken embryo inside. The legs and wings sort of stick out the sides. These people are exceptionally primitive. I argue, surprisingly often, that anyone stopping to look at a raw egg in detail, or thinking too much about its life’s journey towards your gaping mouth, would never touch one again.
The great British cooked breakfast is ruined by the assumption that an egg is a key ingredient. It is not. I used to sheepishly accept delivery of an egg to keep the peace, and either shuffle it off onto a friend’s plate or pushed it so far to the edge of my own that I could not smell its eggy sin. Anything that touched it could not be eaten. Now I have grown up, I proudly refuse an egg and gratefully accept an additional hash brown or, in rare but happy cases, a sausage. Trading an egg for a sausage is a no-brainer. It is a trade that puts you very much ahead. Trading an egg for a hash brown is roughly evens, and you should never accept additional toast in place of the egg. Just in case you ever again find yourself tempted by an egg of any kind, remember to watch this until you change your mind:-