Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Egg bun, acting and soldiers


I ate my first duck egg of 2019 on Saturday morning past and I swear to whatever deity is listening, I almost passed out at the pleasure.

It’s like a poor man’s caviar; buttery toast with soft yolk and crushed sea salt. I may have mentioned this before but if a body was forced to choose a last meal before the gallows, you could do a lot worse than duck eggs with buttery toast (and tea, obviously).

As a nipper, I was regularly on the receiving end of such epic breakfasts/brunches. My father had a balding of ducks at home and, free range and organic, the eggs they produced were second to none.

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On Saturday past I was telling our eldest that when I wasn’t much older than her, I regularly sat down to two boiled duck eggs and three slices of toast (and tea, obvs). Such was my penchant for duck eggs that my mother used to say if I kept eating them as often as I did, I would suffer from a hitherto unknown affliction that she referred to only as ‘egg bun.’

I suspected that this was merely scare tactics on her part, to keep me away from the eggs and my suspicions were proven correct, as I continued to pack the eggs away on a near daily basis, somehow managing to avoid the dreaded malady.

These days though, not having ducks at home means that I’m not filling the duck egg-shaped hole in my soul as often as I’d like, hence Saturday’s being the first of the year. But when the occasion finally arrives, after I’ve spotted duck eggs hither and thither on farm shop shelves, they are always an absolute joy.

I conducted a straw poll at work this morning on duck eggs and I was surprised at the number of people who’ve never taken the plunge, so to speak. Ergo, for their benefit…

Duck eggs are richer and creamier than hen eggs and more importantly, stronger. In short there is no comparison. I do know however, that the strength of flavour in a duck egg depends on its diet. And then benefits don’t end there.

Duck eggs stay fresher for longer, as they have a thicker shell. Although, compared to a hen’s egg, a duck egg’s shell is porous. If you leave a duck egg in cold water, the albumen will begin to seep out into the surrounding water.

They also contain more omega-3 than a ubiquitous hen egg.

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And for me, most importantly of all, compared to a hen’s, a duck yolk is darker and much, much larger.
Sold yet? You should be.

NOTE: Never make mayonnaise with duck egg yolks. It just doesn’t work. Trust me on this. Anyway…

On Saturday morning past, as I informed the little humans as to what they were having for breakfast, one was over the duck-blue moon, while the other affirmed she didn’t like duck eggs. But I was ready for this.

As is normally the case with our youngest, Anna, if she hasn’t tried something before, she automatically doesn’t like it and no amount of cajoling will change her mind. However, to circumnavigate this problem, I formulated a plan.

Says I to Herself and Sarah, “I’m gonna boil some duck eggs. Anna doesn’t want one so when yours comes to the table, make a big deal of it. Really hype it up. Make out this is the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your lives. And then we’ll see.”

So I boiled the four eggs and toasted a heap of toast for soldiers. The kettle was boiled and the tea made (obvs).

Minutes later, I presented three eggs unto the table, minus one for Anna.

A crunch of sea salt and a nip of butter into each beckoning yolk and we were soon all dipping.

“Thith ith the betht thing av eva tathted,” Sarah exclaimed around a mouthful of dipped buttery soldier.

“Me too!” goes Herself.

“Duck eggs are my favourite,” I supplied.

For her part, Anna munched away on her toast for a few moments, slurping on a tumbler of milk. I watched her out of the corner of my eye, as Sarah went for an Academy Award for Best Support Actress.

Then she snapped.

“Can my have a duck egg?” Anna asked, a little coyly.

“Of course you can, buddy.” And a fourth boiled duck egg, top already taken off, was produced as if by magic.
And the dipping continued.

INGREDIENTS
As many duck eggs as you fancy eating
butter
toast for soldiers
more butter
sea salt
tea (obvs)

THE PLAN
You know how to make tea and toast, so that’s a given. Duck eggs, if you’re not already a fan are another matter – but also very simple.
Fill your saucepan with cold water and to that, add the duck eggs. Bring to a boil. As soon as the water starts boiling, set the timer a-going. For a soft yolk duck eggs take three minutes and not a second longer.

After that time, stand onto egg cups, chop off their noggins (thick end of the egg, as that’s where the bulk of the yolk will be), add a touch of butter and salt onto said yolk and call in the troops (little humans and soldiers).

Foot-man-note: Do you know why soldiers are called soldiers? Apparently the term was popularised in the 1960s in a series of TV adverts for eggs starring Tony Hancock. Now you know. Egg bun anyone?
Bring it on!

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