Why put all your eggs in a basket when you have a frying pan….


I watched a sporting match at the weekend that failed to live up to its name. It was not the expectation, nor in fact the event itself, in which lay the failure: it was in the naming…..it was not a match, it was a mismatch. One of the two sides, strive as their players manfully did, were restricted to showing how good was the other. Being a neutral observer the predictable outcome had no effect on me save for arousing in my mind the likeness between this mismatch and its disconcerting similarity to innumerable dishes of food that have, over the years, been put before me and indeed those that, on more occasions than I would care to admit, I have put before others, and which suffered from the same shortcoming: a mismatch, in these incidents of ingredients, flavours and conception. We, as was the Curate, are compelled to employ a euphemistic reply to suggest that there is something good in an irredeemably bad dish….or, as was the original case, egg. An egg is good or it is bad, there is no middle ground. A dish that is too salty will remain so despite our protestations of it reminding us of swimming in the warm sea last summer.

I clearly remember, though I have tried without success over the years to expunge this memory, an occasion when I reduced a classically simple dinner, consisting of a gigot and a gratin of potatoes, to a gut wrenching endurance test.  Mismatches were the rocks on which the dinner foundered. It was at the time when I had first discovered Edouard de Pomiane and was enthused with his writings and recipes, in one of which he had described cooking a gigot over hot coals with a silver foil reflector at the side. It was summertime, so the idea of cooking outside in the early evening pushed all the right buttons and in due course the skin of the gigot had attained that mouthwatering glssoy, dark brown hue that predicts perfection. The accompanying gratin was attaining a similar hue in the oven whilst the dark thunderclouds of disaster were still noticeable by their absence. There are one or two details of the cooking procedures  with which I have not yet acquainted you and of which, at the time, I was equally oblivious. The time taken for the gigot to reach perfection,  in the estimation of M.de Pomiane, was the duration of his conversation with a neighbour over the garden fence. No exact details were given of the conversation, nor of its length, and I, a debutant with a gigot al fresco, did not have the wit to probe it with a knife. Instead, I had decided to make a Pomianesque decision of when it was ready, and that decision was to be made earlier rather than later….overcooked lamb being my fear. As to the gratin……my nose had been in another book which had cast its influence over me, and in which I had come across the aptly named Janssen’s Temptation, a Swedish version of a potato gratin which uses anchovies as the salting agent. This excellent dish had stayed in my mind and I had decided to replace the dauphinois with this new concept. As I layered the potatoes, cream and anchovies my mind still retained fragments of the original Dauphinois plan, so I generously sprinkled salt on top of each layer of tinned anchovy fillets that lay between the cream smeared, paper thin potatoes. The end result was memorable, in that being served burnt skinned, yet bleeding raw lamb with a dish of potatoes that challenged the Dead Sea for salinity would be forever engraved on the memories of our guests whilst the two dining chairs, breaking nearly simultaneously, and casting them onto the floor at the speed of a failing elevator was the icing on the cake, though what that icing would consist of beggars belief if such a fucking awful event can be called cake.

It would have been so much better to have served them a perfect fried egg; eaten, with good bread, directly from the pan….preferably not whilst sitting on a chair.


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, Baking, BBQ, Cooking, Cream, Cuisine bourgeoise, Digital photography, Edouard de Pomiane, Eggs, Emotion, Expectation, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Fried eggs, gigot, Humour, Meat, Memory, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Why put all your eggs in a basket when you have a frying pan….

  1. Mad Dog says:

    all your eggs in one basket
    rotten egg
    egg on your face
    go fry an egg
    good egg

  2. the fried egg never made it in front of your lens???????? ……….oh it was too salty

  3. I think we’ve all had experiences like that. And a fried egg always hits the spot, That bread looks amazing too!

  4. Oops, bit the send button too soon. Was going to ask if you have seen the film Big Night with Stanley Tucci – the final scene, taken in one long shot, is of the two brothers in the restaurant kitchen frying and eating eggs in silence….incredible scene and a homage to the humble fried egg.

  5. mrsugarbears says:

    Hopefully the wine was good. 🙂 That always makes up for any upsets in the kitchen.

  6. Fig & Quince says:

    the second photo looks like a beautiful painting!

  7. Quit showing those fantastic breads -they are driving me nuts! 🙂

  8. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    Ahhhhh……the salty anchovy.
    (I experienced it’s delights not too long ago in a sandwich. Do try a nice rye sourdough sandwich of a couple of mashed anchovies mixed with a generous amount of chopped flat-leafed parsley – yummy).

    Looks like the bread in the background of your image will do just fine.

    Those eggs look just fine too. I presume they’re local ones with those delicate speckles.

  9. Eha says:

    Sorry if that ‘sad tale’ of culinary misadventure had me laughing from the first sentence when pre-Christmas piles of tasks beckon! Especially having been brought up on Janssen’s Temptation, which really can be just that 🙂 ! Actually looking at your polished plate of egg and bread anchovies were just what I would have added . . . . !!!

  10. Michelle says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of Janssen’s Temptation. May have to try that (without added salt, of course). In the meantime, please pass the eggs.

  11. That bread! Oh, you are killing me. I’d love that for breakfast every single morning.
    Wonderful shots, as always.

  12. EllaDee says:

    Just enough evidence of egg left on the knife to tantalise…

  13. cecilia says:

    Oh NO! That’s too awful. I am so heartened by you having such a terrible failure of a dinner party, (there is a word for that but i cannot spell it) though i am not sure you had to rig breakages of furniture as dessert! I love a fried egg, i have two every morning (as you know) and i am still deeply envious of that pan.. c

  14. Misky says:

    (Snort). Excuse me. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in weeks. I so look forward to your posts, not only for the photos, but the content. It’s a feast. x

    p.s. What camera do you use for these photos, Roger?


  15. saucygander says:

    It’s somehow heartening to know you served that dinner, and have survived to tell the tale and eat that fabulous bread. Did those dinner guests ever come back?

  16. My family groan when I say ‘if you have eggs you have a meal’ but its so true!!! Fried egg on bread cannot be beaten.

  17. I love eggs and resisted the whole eggs are bad for you trend and now I’m fashionable again. 🙂 Isn’t it awful when you have a glorious menu planned and what’s in your head doesn’t make it to the plate? We all have our off days.

  18. Amanda says:

    Really beautiful photography. Really good story! 🙂

  19. ChgoJohn says:

    Have a few eggs in the fridge and no matter how bad the meal, you’ll never go hungry.

  20. I do like the idea of anchovies in a gratin. As for eggs: as far as I’m concerned, un oeuf is enough.

  21. Karen says:

    I so enjoy your posts. Great photography but they are always such a good read as well. 🙂

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