One of the questions I’m sometimes asked, almost always while eating, is “what would you want as your last meal?” I always give the same answer: “How about you?” I say in my best imitation of Hannibal Lecter, “more Chianti?”
It really is a morbid question when you think about it and your mind ends up in uncomfortable places if you try to answer honestly. I mean, so much depends on the time and circumstance. Will it be a hasty muffin and coffee gulped down before rushing to a morning appointment at the gallows? Or, will you absent-mindedly walk into the path of a bus while texting, after a leisurely lunch with old friends (“omg u woodn’t believe wat i just 8″…SMACK).
Dinner could be even worse. With my luck, it would be airline food.
A better question, I think – or, at least one that keeps me in a happier mental space – is this: “If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, what single ingredient would you want to have with you so you could make a good meal for yourself and Scarlett Johansson, who oddly enough was the only other survivor? ” (Ladies, you can be shipwrecked with George Clooney if you like.)
For me the answer is easy. Assuming that Scarlett is not allergic, I would take eggs. There are lots of single ingredients that you could have on hand that would allow you to survive, but with just eggs you can make meals that are different every day, each one of them elegant.
Eggs were in the doghouse for years because of the Great Cholesterol Scare but have finally been rehabilitated. So much so, that this year they made several lists of the hottest food trends for 2010. Eggs, it seems, are the new bacon.
So, it is with great trendiness that I announce a week-long celebration of eggs here at Meats, Roots and Leaves, Eggs, with a new recipe featuring eggs every day for the next seven days. Other ingredients will be allowed, because this isn’t a desert island and, frankly, Scarlet doesn’t give a damn.
Let’s start with my favourite, poached.
How to poach an egg
Poaching an egg is like yoga for cooks; it’s all about movement and timing and remembering to breathe. And, it’s just a bit harder than it looks. But a nicely poaching egg, it’s white billowing in the moving poaching liquid, it’s yolk an island of colour is a thing of beauty. And then you get to eat it.
Break an egg into a shallow bowl and set aside.
Bring about three inches of water in a wide pan (with a bit of white vinegar added; about a tablespoon per egg) to a boil and reduce the heat slightly so it’s just below the boiling point.
With a spatula or spoon, swirl the water in a circular motion. Now, here’s the tricky bit: while the water is moving, carefully slide the egg out of the bowl into the middle of the pan. (This is where you have to remember to breathe.) In 3-4 minutes remove the egg with a slotted spoon, draining off all the water.
You can set the eggs aside and reheat just before serving by placing them back into hot water for about 20 seconds. Serve on toasted bread to soak up the yolk.