The first chapter of Gina Mallet’s memoir/food manifesto Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World, is devoted to the egg. The imperiled egg: the unfortunate victim of food science and factory farming. Mallet, whose world war two childhood in Britain was virtually eggless (unless you count the dried variety), has become champion to the egg.
And with this responsibility comes scads of recipes and remembrances of meals past. Eggs of all sorts populate this chapter: oeufs mayonnaise, oeufs en cocotte, oeufs à la Polignac, mousse au chocolat.
The turning point meal, however, occurs in the salle-à-manger of the Metropole Hotel in Beaulieu-sur-Mer.
There, a young Mallet orders scrambled eggs. “My parents were dismissive” she writes. “You’ve come to France and you’re eating eggs?” But when said object of dismissal arrives in a hollowed-out brioche, “creamy” with “not a lump in sight” (47), Mallet is redeemed. And enchanted.
I used Laura Calder’s Method for cooking the eggs and stuffed them in Mamie Clafoutis’ pain au lait. If you visit this Montreal bakery on weekends (and not on a Tuesday morning as I did) you can buy their mini brioches instead – for accuracy’s sake.
Calder advises you to cook the whites first. When they begin to look like a snow storm, add the yolks and keep stirring. You may discern a lump or two in the photograph. I have not yet perfected my technique. Though I will happily apply myself to the task for the result is indeed enchanting.
What was to be my lunch was something more, something that required fine bone china and silverware and (discreet) second helpings.
Mallet, Gina. Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004. Print.
Text and photos by Alexia Moyer