After 31 years of wanting an egg cup my mom sent me a pair of pretty purple porcelain ones last week. OK, so perhaps I’m exaggerating about the 31 years thing but it’s entirely possible that my Bread and Jam for Frances egg cup induced obsession began while I was still in utero. At the very least I can positively confirm that from the age of five on I was absolutely hooked on the idea.
Of course, much like Frances at the beginning of the story, my younger self really didn’t want anything to do with the soft boiled egg that you were supposed to perch on top of the dainty cup and then eat. I just wanted a pretty dish. As a former picky eater that you could barely coax into eating scrambled eggs I distinctly remember feeling horrified at the thought of eating a runny tepid egg. Pass the cheese pizza please. There was no way I was eating anything so weird and potentially slimy.
This afternoon I finally had the opportunity to take my egg cups for a test drive. I dug out the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, found the proper instructions for making soft-cooked eggs and popped a few organic eggs into a pot. While the eggs were boiling the oddest feeling came over me. I seriously started dreading the thought of eating not quite set eggs. It was as though I’d opened up a psychic connection to itty bitty Erin and all she wanted to eat were cheeseburgers with mustard and grilled cheese sandwiches cut into exactly nine squares.
Even while I took photographs of my egg cups meeting my copy of Russell Hoban’s book for the first time I honestly wasn’t sure if I would actually be able to eat what I had cooked. I can’t even begin to express how utterly absurd this feeling was. Especially considering the amount of eggs benedict I’ve consumed in my lifetime.
Finally I steeled myself and worked up the courage to take a bite. And I loved it! I sprinkled a little salt on the exposed yolk and went to town and honestly before I knew what was fully happening I had polished off two tender eggs and was getting ready to whack the top off from a third. Eureka! Soft-boiled eggs are amazing! What on earth was Frances thinking? Why had I let that little jam fiend get into my head and brainwash me into believing that this simple breakfast was awful when in reality it’s actually extraordinary? I suppose the moral of the story is that even when you’re a grown-up there’s still a picky little kid somewhere in the back of your brain that needs to be put back in their place from time to time.
Originally published in the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Place eggs in shells in a single layer in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover 1 inch above the eggs. Bring to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat so water is just below simmering. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes; drain.
Fill the saucepan with cold water and let stand just until the eggs are cool enough to handle. Cut off tops and serve in egg cups. Or, cut the eggs in half and use a spoon to scoop the eggs into serving dishes. Makes 4 soft-cooked eggs.