I ate one of the most memorable meals of my life last week and the best of it was, it was also one of the simplest.
My poached egg on buttered toast with a slice of smoky bacon was also, in a sense, one of the most highly anticipated meals of modern times, insofar as I’d been waiting on it for the guts of six weeks. Anticipation, as we all can appreciate, certainly hones the edge of an appetite. However expectancy aside, the big difference between this simple poached egg and the very many I’ve previously enjoyed the years is that this one was a first: It came courtesy of my very own hens.
It was a small egg but perfectly formed and it was laid that very morning. When I went out to the hen house for retrieve that morning’s bounty, the eggs were actually still warm. You can’t get fresher than that and as they say, the key to maximum poached egg appreciation is freshness. But both anticipation and freshness aside, the main reason that my simple poached egg was one of the most memorable meals of my life was because of the effort involved.
Ordinarily, if a body takes a notion for an egg, a trip to the shop suffices and hey presto, you’ve a half dozen ready to crack. However, if a body takes a notion for a laying hen, there’s a sight more involved than a trip to the shop. In order to host a laying hen (or hens) there is a hen house to think of, a chicken run, bedding, food, a drinker and then of course, the hens themselves. It’s not a venture to undertake lightly – or in a hurry. Then there’s the patience required when the young hens finally arrive and you have to start waiting on them to lay. This is perhaps the most difficult time because everything is in place and yet there is still a delay as the girls come into laying maturity.
And so, every morning after the three newbies had arrived at their new home to roost, we diligently went to check for eggs and every morning we were met with the same void of disappointment. Luckily, we had a great many hens when I was a nipper and so I knew a little of what to expect with wait times but even with this know-how, the anticipation was all but killing me.
The three new ladies – Beyoncé, Shakira and Nikki (Minaj) – wasted no time in making themselves at home though. They strutted, scratched and seemed to take great delight in pooing on everything that could be pooed upon. I was also surprised to discover that each has her own personality. Beyoncé is a real diva and tends to bully her two coop-mates at every opportunity, Shakira especially, who is shy and timid by nature. Nikki (Minaj) though, is the house favourite, such is her inquisitiveness. She will follow you around like a puppy if she’s allowed out, she takes grain from the hand and is not averse to being picked up and made a fuss of, from time to time.
Just in case you were wondering, I didn’t personally pick these names but rather, I am already sharing a house with three ladies and so sometimes my masculine opinion matters less. Had I had my way, the three hens would have been called, Scrambled, Kiev and Zinger. But I didn’t get my way. Anyway, I digress…
The day the first egg arrived, laid by Beyoncé as it happened, I was primed to crack it open at once and possibly eat raw. However this proposal was vetoed until such times as we had four eggs, one for each member of the family to enjoy. Thankfully, we didn’t have long to wait because when Beyoncé started laying (she lays blue eggs, incidentally), Nikki (Minaj) soon followed suit with her (brown). Only Shakira remains egg-less so far and so I’m hoping she’s not a rooster in disguise.
But going back to my most memorable meal in recent memory… Having founded a new colony of diva hens, having fashioned a chicken run and having put all the elements in place to help generate the free-range protein, you might imagine my perfectly honed anticipation when the day of eating finally arrived. The journey had at last reached its first destination and I would soon discover if all the effort and waiting and fretting had been worthwhile.
Not to put too fine a point on things but my poached egg on buttered toast with a slice of smokey bacon was, in a sense, one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. You might scoff at my hyperbole but to me that small but perfectly formed egg tasted of endeavour, dedication, care, hope and most of all, the great esteem in which our three ladies are now held. It wasn’t merely a soft poached egg but rather, it was a soft poached part of recent life experience and as such, I savoured every single morsel.
Not to put too fine a point on things but my poached egg on buttered toast with a slice of smoky bacon was, in a sense, one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life.
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