Sunday, January 21, 2007

Return of the egg salad

I don't think I used to eat the much-scorned egg salad of my childhood. I don't remember avoiding it, but I am sure I must have been side-stepping it skilfully, because it is definitely the sort of thing I wouldn't have eaten. I preferred boiled eggs and soldiers, in those days, out of my Noddy egg cup (I gather that Noddy and Big Ears are un-PC these days. What a shame. I loved Enid Blyton and I am sure she inspired my passion for reading, even if her female characters all stayed in the house and helped Mother while the boys helped Father in the garden - remember the Faraway Tree?). I decided on this dish because we bought very fresh eggs this morning at the farm shop and the photo caught my eye, but I was resigned to not liking it that much before I began; I presumed it would probably be a bit too eggy for me. We were going into town this afternoon, to shop (which for me means meandering from bookshop to bookshop, punctuated by the odd clothes shop, Lakeland, and the kitchenware department of Fenwicks) and didn't have much time to prepare lunch, which was fine because this egg salad was as fast as can be.

We boiled the eggs in slightly salted water, refreshed them in cold water, drained, peeled and halved them, before drizzling over some lemon-spiked mayonnaise. We served with toast and rashers of pancetta.

A couple of our eggs were a bit over-boiled; others were just right. I tucked in with a smidgen of wariness, but they were nice - the lemony mayo really worked with the eggs.

This experience made me think about the extent to which fashion prevails in terms of what we eat. I suppose this might mean we miss out on a lot of dishes that people loved in the past, but in practice it probably doesn't because fashions in food as in clothes have a habit of returning, slightly modified, but in more or less familiar form. Fashions arise partly because we are fickle, grow tired of the familiar and want to branch into something more exciting, but then it would seem that we miss the past, or we miss its familiarity, and thus we embrace the once-forgotten foodstuff on its second or third time around. I think the important thing for me is to be open-minded, because I greet these retro foods with a degree of suspicion. I can eat sushi and seaweed with the best of them, but I am still repulsed by rice pudding (memories of school and the skin that formed on top). I am not afraid of the new or the foreign, but I am terrified of the old foods that made me retch during school lunchtimes and that made me hide behind the settee refusing to go to school until I was allowed to take packed lunches. I wonder what would have happened if Jamie had come to my school - I suspect I would have staged a hunger strike. All that said, I have now eaten egg salad and am proud of it; I will probably, even, eat it again.


Ilana said...

Mmmm, egg salad! I love eggs, and let's face it, I'd eat my fingers if they were covered in mayonnaise. That 'lemon-spiked' one that you have looks intriguing.



charlotte said...

Hmmm, think I'd have the same response to having to eat egg salad. But, like Ilana, I'd probably eat anything covered in lemon-spiked mayonnaise!

BTW, Jamie's doing a cooking show in Frankfurt in February and I'm thinking of going - have you ever seen him cook live (as opposed to on telly)?

Writing At The Kitchen Table said...

I'll eat egg salad in any form, it never went out of fashion in my books! In fact, if we go out anywhere on a picnic, I always ask my mum to make me several tonnes of egg salad sandwiches!
Yours look delicious!

Kathryn said...

It is true that lemon mayonnaise is delicious...

I've never seen Jamie live (well apart from one of his live shows that was televised, not sure that counts though). I bet he would be fun. I like how he doesn't seem to take food too seriously - and yet clearly he does (the school dinner project...).

I don't think I'm quite at the egg sandwiches for a picnic stage, but maybe I'll get there!

Kathryn x