I owe today's hot tip not to my French cookbook but to my sister Deborah. We were having breakfast at a local restaurant, and I asked her how it was that restaurant scrambled eggs come out so soft and creamy, so unlike mine at home. She told me the eggs are only briefly and gently beaten, so that not a lot of air is incorporated. That made sense, so I decided to try it myself. I had inadvertently left my camera at the bookstore overnight so couldn’t document the attempt, but here’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
(1) I chose a small pan and limited the trial to two eggs.
(2) Before-pan scrambling – in a bowl – was accomplished with a fork.
(3) When butter in the pan was melted, I turned down the heat and slid the eggs in.
(4) I did not stir but watched the edges and gently folded the eggs over from outside to center when it was obvious that the edges were cooking.
(5) Watching and folding were repeated until the eggs were no longer runny.
The result was pronounced, by He-Who-Adores-Being-Served, “Perfect eggs!”
A few days later (I kept forgetting), I looked in my French cookbook, fully prepared not to be surprised if there were no directions in there at all for scrambling eggs. The morning meal in Paris is generally café au lait and croissant, and I’ve seen French men and women add cigarettes to the classic Continental breakfast, never did I see anyone in France starting the day with eggs. When eggs are cooked in a French kitchen, they are generally baked or poached or hard-cooked or incorporated into a quiche, but none of these methods is applied to the breakfast table.
Surprise! I Know How to Cook, the English translation of Je sais cuisiner, does present a recipe for scrambled eggs. Sadly, however, I cannot recommend it. I don’t object to the addition of milk (and maybe I added a smidgen of milk to my eggs before they went in the pan; truly, I do not remember), but beating butter into them seems entirely unnecessary, and “stirring constantly for 12 minutes” sounds like terrible advice. Twelve minutes would cook eggs to death!
French cuisine holds pride of place in the world of cooking, but there are some things Americans do better: fresh, green spring asparagus are immeasurable more delicious than the fat, anemic white Continental objects, and while the French know sorbet, no one can argue that sorbet takes the place of real, creamy ice cream. Scrambled eggs? Faites vos oeufs, comme je les ai fait moi, à l’américaine.