John B Keane: the age old secret to eating fried eggs

FOR YEARS I have wanted to write a thesis of fried eggs.

FOR YEARS I have wanted to write a thesis of fried eggs.

The difficulties were many and unexpected problems always presented themselves at the wrong moment, so I think you will agree with me that it might be wise to settle for just a few words on the matter.

I like fried eggs better that I do boiled eggs: therefore it can be said that I have some feelings on the subject.

What I mean is that I write about fried eggs from preference, not because I have to or because I want to but because I regard it as my duty.

On Fridays I invariably limit myself to a choice of four courses.

They are, first of all mackerel or herring.

I put these under the same heading, not merely because they are both fish but because they are simple, unpretentious chaps and it is a sign of humility and frugality to be seen purchasing them.

Number two is the onion dip about which I have written exhaustively in these columns in the past.

Number three is ling, but ling is not always available, although an obliging bus conductor brought me a flitch of it from Caherciveen a few weeks ago.

Last, but not least, and when all fish fails, there are fried eggs-or, rather fried eggs and pandy- and let me tell you here and now that fried eggs and pandy is a top level choice of mine, not just an alternative.

I have often eaten fried eggs without pandy and have been sated, but, for the complete meal, pandy is essential.

The eggs should be soft, not hard as in fried egg sandwiches, and should be served with extreme care.

By this I mean that under no circumstances must they be plopped haphazardly anywhere on the plate.

If they are thrown on top it can make a mess of the entire meal.

They should be allowed to slide into the plate as if they were gravy so that the yolks are undamaged in transit and the crisp brown-white borders are allowed to rest, ever so lightly, against the steaming mound of cream-coloured pandy.

There are many who, while reading this, will ask what’s it all about, what differences does it make one way or the other?

Let me assure them that it does make a difference.

To be fastidious is to be virtuous.

To be accurate is to be no less virtuous but to be respectful is the soul of virtue.

It should always be remembered that pandy is one thing and fried eggs another.

The indelicate may say: “So what? Won’t it be all the same when they mix inevitably in the stomach?”

It is not all the same and it is this sort of thoughtless examination that leads to major friction in the home.

Disrespect shown to fried eggs is disrespect shown to all foods, because all foods are related, far-out relations in most instances, but, nevertheless, the connection is still there and blood is thicker than water.

But-where was I?

Yes-I was about to say a word about fried eggs served in dinners in moving trains.

Here is a problem in need of the most detailed analytical examination.

Eggs fried soft on a train rarely meet the destination for which they are intended.

This is not an uncommon aspect of railway travel since drunken men and tardy woman have suffered the same fate time and time again.

Unfortunately, however, the waistcoat pocked or the trouser knees are the destinations most frequently arrived at by the mistreated fried egg.

It is a brave man who opts for soft-fried eggs on a train which is doing sixty miles an hour.

The solution, of course, is that only hard-fried eggs should be served aboard moving trains.

Bureaucracy, you say.

I beg to differ.

I, myself, while eating sausages in railway diners, have received splatters of egg-yolk on the forehead, eyes, nose and sometimes in the ears.

The egg-splatters in question were not of my own making.

They were the property of reckless diners who should have known better.

The distance from plate to mouth in a moving train is not a stationary distance, as in homes and hotels, and that which is intended for the stomach often winds up on the coats and faces of the luckless passengers.

It is a waste of time trying to coax the yolk from the plate under such circumstances.

The best method though not always successful-is to scoop up the yolk with a slice of bread.

This is not the function of bread, but what is the one to do?

Even with bread, a good deal of the yolk attaches itself to the fingers and have you ever tried removing egg yolk on a moving train?

One solution is that the eggs should be thoroughly fried so that the yolks are firm.

The real answer, of course, is pandy.

The yolk of a soft-fried egg has no answer to pandy.

It attaches itself to the pandy and with the aid of pandy the plate can be wiped clean.

The next time you sit aboard a moving train, make it a point to measure the amount of egg yolk left on the plates.

The amount will astonish you, and I hope that railway authorities will take note.

Aboard ships and trains, I always order pandy with my fried eggs.

It is not that I am wiser than others.

It is that I have benefited from experience and people should remember that there are all sorts of ways in which they can improve themselves.

A beginning may be made at fried eggs, and let me assure one and all that the man who can handle soft eggs can handle almost anything.