In Praise of the Soft Boiled Egg

In Praise of the Soft Boiled Egg

There are mornings when you just can’t quite summon the will to proceed, mornings where you’re groggy, and dreading your job, and feeling like it’s all a long treadmill of the same old same old and here you are again.

On those mornings, sometimes all it takes is a good egg. A nice piece of toast with some butter, and a three minute egg you bought from your local chicken farmer. I buy mine from Isabelle, my milk lady, and while they are very expensive — about six dollars a dozen, they are really great eggs. I say this as someone who has been cheating a little lately on my egg lady. I bought some other, local, ranch eggs and I’m sorry to say, they just weren’t as good. The shells were very thin, and the yolks had a slightly funky, too-eggy taste to them that was not what one wants out of a soft boiled egg at 6:30 in the morning when one is trying to summon the will to go on. And so, I went back to my Isabelle, whose eggs are a lovely brown color, they have very sturdy shells, bright marigold colored yolks, and a perfect, clean eggy taste.

This morning, one of Isabelle’s eggs, with some chive and thyme from the winter herb garden on the back porch, a little alleppo pepper and some sea salt, well, it restored my will to live. A piece of my own sourdough bread toasted, an orange sliced into eighths, a cup of strong tea, and a walk with Raymond-the-dog, and well, Monday is now something that I can deal with. Saved by an egg.

6 thoughts on “In Praise of the Soft Boiled Egg

  1. thanks for the inspiration! I haven’t soft-boiled an egg in years, but now I’m eating one, with a couple of slices of home-baked whole wheat (another no-knead recipe). I don’t know my egg farmer, but they came from a local farm and sold in bulk at my food coop for 39 cents each.

  2. You’ve reminded me of a life-saving soft boiled egg I had a few months ago. I got up before dawn and walked my husband across mid-town Manhattan to a conference he was attending at the NY Times building — I hadn’t had so much as a coffee yet, and we live in quaint & quiet Boston, so by the time I sent him off and waded through the onslaught of bodies coming in from Jersey, I jumped on the first downtown train and got out at 14th St, ready to pass out. Birds chirped, bookstores beckoned. I found a sunny window table at a place that gave me a perfect soft-boiled egg with a selection of whole-grain breads and a small bowl of sweet butter. It turned my day right around, well before 9am. I should try to make them at home . . . thanks for the post.

  3. What lovely stories — yeah, sometimes we all just need a little sustenence. My soft boiled egg method is put a cold egg in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 3 minutes for a smallish egg, 4 for a big one. Take the egg out with a spoon and wrap in a napkin while you pour the boiling water in the rice bowl (or other small ceramic bowl from which you will eat the egg) to heat it for a moment. If you have them, snip a few thyme and chive sprigs. Pour the hot water out of the now-warm bowl, and holding the warm egg in the napkin, tap the shell in a circle toward the pointy end. Scoop the egg out into the bowl, add some herbs, a little salt, some black pepper and a tiny bit of chile sauce it that’s your wont. Eat with buttered toast, and perhaps a sliced orange. Regain your will to live.

  4. Charlotte,
    My mother’s father had to go work at the age of nine after his father, a guy who immigrated to the US from Sicily after a row with his wealthy industrialist father who wanted him to work in the family business, decided that he was not cut out to be a father and abandoned his wife and kids to fend for themselves in Brooklyn. By the age of 18 my grandfather was so overworked that he’d become very underweight and was suffering, according to his doctor, from malnutrition.

    The remedy his doctor prescribed was two months in the country and a strict adherence to a diet that consisted of three meals a day at the traditional intervals of morning, noon and evening.

    Breakfast, he was told, was especially important and to make sure that he was rightly prepared to face the day, he should eat one soft boiled egg, toast coffee, orange juice and a bowl of cornflakes.

    My grandfather ate that same breakfast everyday for 68 years.
    If I’m making this up, I’m sure I don’t know anything.

  5. What a great story Bob (well, except of course for the fact that your grandfather had it so hard). Everyone forgets what a problem malnutrition was in the early part of the last century — part of what brought us our (now-gutted) school lunch program. But the unfair aspersions cast at eggs this past decade or so are one of my pet peeves. I hate sweets in the morning — I need some protien, something that won’t leave me starving at 10:00. More often than not, it’s an egg. I also ate a lot of fried eggs in that year after my brother died when I couldn’t cope — an egg on toast or an egg on a baked potato is a pretty good, and very easy, dinner.

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