Thu | Mar 4, 2021

Take this egg and skillet

Published:Saturday | May 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

I can crack a joke with the best of them but have never been able to crack a yolk without getting egg on my hands, on the floor, on the outside of the frying pan and bits of shell in my egg.

I know, as I have been told many times, that cracking the spheroid or ovoid-shaped cell laid by females of different species is not an egg-sack science but it is frustrating and embarrassing not to be able to crack them with the savoir faire that I usually demonstrate in the kitchen. I can fry them, I can flip them, I can poach them and sunny-side them, I can stir and mix them, omelette and meringue them, coddle them, devil and flan them, but I have real problems cracking them. In fact, I might have a better chance of cracking the Da Vinci Code or the Riddle of the Sphinx than an egg.

I have tried sundry methods but Providence refuses to give me a break, or at least one that is clean and professional. I have tried various knives of different sizes hoping that the shell will fracture rather than crack and that I can then separate it piecefully. I usually end up with egg on my face as I either have to try more than one knife blow or I have to complete the fracturing process with my hands. The egg-sperience leaves me shell-shocked and without the capacity to turn the situation around to my advantage, like David Cameron the Tory Party leader now on the campaign trail in England.

Since the campaign started, Mr Cameron has been followed around by a Daily Mirror reporter dressed as a chicken. The Mirror is said to be claiming that Mr Cameron is too chicken to answer their questions. If that is not bizarre enough, Mr Cameron was then hit by an egg thrown by a 16-year-old student. The Telegraph reported, "Parts of the egg, which broke on impact, made a mark on his white shirt and splashed on to a detective who was following Mr Cameron out of the door. When the egg hit, Mr Cameron made light of the incident, joking: "The first one of the campaign."

The incident happened a day after Mr Cameron was accosted by a reporter dressed in a chicken suit who had been hired by a tabloid newspaper to follow him around for the first half of the election campaign. Referring to that incident, he added: "I now can answer one of the fundamental questions of life, which came first the chicken or the egg? I know."

predicament

I have a sense of humour but not being able to crack an egg properly is no joke. There is a scene in Kramer Vs Kramer, the movie featuring Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman, when Hoffman had to make French toast for his son Billy. When the kid found bits of eggshell in the toast, Hoffman remarked that the bits of shell made the toast crunchy. When it comes down to the crunch, I can make fried eggs and French toast with the best of chefs.

My predicament, I believe, stems from historical phenomena beyond my control. The first of these is that I cannot imagine what possessed one of our cave-person ancestors to work out that eggs were food. Given where eggs come from (and in those days the creatures were huge), to even contemplate putting into your mouth an object the passage and delivery system of which leave much to be desired in terms of both aesthetics and sanitation requires someone egged on by indescribable and indiscriminate hunger.

I know there are people who suck raw eggs for whatever shock, nutritional or aphrodisiac value they might contain. The phrase 'teaching your grandmother to suck eggs' while meaning 'giving someone advice about something at which they are presumed to be adept' indicates that the practice goes back some time. In fact, in 1890 there was a cartoon in the British humorous magazine Punch in which a young man said to his grandmother, "You see, Grandmama, before you extract the contents of this bird's egg by suction, you must make an incision at one extremity, and a corresponding orifice at the other." His grandmother replied to the effect, "Dearie me! And we used to just make a hole at each end." My grandmother, had she survived, would have cracked up to see me trying to crack an egg.

The other factor that bedevils my adventures into the crack of doom is the architecture of the egg. It seems that its shape is the key. The ovoid shape (in my case compounded by incredible hostility) is what gives an egg its incredible strength. If you wrap your fingers around an egg and squeeze while trying to apply equal pressure to all sides of the eggs, it is impossible to crack it. It is a three-dimensional arch. Of course, if you put more pressure on any particular point, it will eventually break. So why then does the egg put pressure on me? What malevolent forces make it single me out? I suppose, like the police, there are bad eggs in every batch.

Maybe I should change my approach. Two days ago I tried breaking the eggs on the side of the frying pan, something I have seen chefs do with skill and sang-froid. In my case, it is more Sigmund Freud than sang-froid since my attempts were both traumatic and disastrous, leaving me more messed up than the stove top burner and the side of the frying pan. I have now come off the boil about egg-frying. I took more than a crack at it and failed. I figure my next move would be to hire myself out to political parties wanting to embarrass candidates for the other side. I don't give a toss who wins the election, but I can give up the skillet and show off my skill set. If I can't make a clean break, I can at least make a clean getaway.

Tony Deyal was last seen saying that his eggstraordinary adventures with egg cracking have so changed his personality that from being an introvert he has become an eggs-throw-vert.