I cook scrambled eggs more than anything else. It’s the first thing I ever learned how to cook. I remember my father leaning over me as I cracked the eggs into the bowl, telling me when I’d put enough milk in, when the eggs were whisked enough, and how to keep the eggs moving around the pan so they cooked more evenly. It didn’t make much sense that the first dish I learned to cook was thanks to the person who did by far the least cooking in the house. In fact, scrambled eggs was just about the only thing he could cook. It was also, and remains to this day, one of the few things my mother has never properly figured out how to cook. My mother hates the smell of eggs cooking, and on the rare occasion she’d serve them for dinner they would arrive at the table overcooked, and rubbery, either salt-free or doused in glistening saline crystals. It’s the huge divide between my father’s scrambled eggs and my mother’s scrambled eggs that has made me incredibly, and enthusiastically, picky about them.
I can’t stand the Gordon Ramsay method of cooking them, with curds so small and so gently cooked they become what amounts to little more than a slightly thickened scrambled egg soup. I also strongly hate hotel scrambled eggs, as everyone should – ribbons of under-seasoned egg that have congealed in the warming trays. The perfect scrambled eggs, to me are those just set curds that have been torn apart. They’re the eggs that come from an attempt at making a French omelet else before you fuck up somehow and just scramble the eggs into separate curds after all.
And despite my pickiness, and the fact that I cook them more than anything else, I’m not great at making them. And perhaps it’s my lack of ability with them, and the ease with which you can start again (provided you’ve got eggs to spare) that means that while I often infuriate myself with my less-than-perfect eggs, I keep making them. And I enjoy making them. Even though they’re never quite what I wanted. I’ve run the gamut of scrambled-egg making – the hard, quick, hot scramble; the slow, luxurious, patient scramble; the large curd vs. the small curd; the American-style omelet packed with cheese and bacon and tomato, and, of course, the French omelette. I went through that same phase that most every cook has gone through. I dedicated myself to making the perfectly blonde, just set, half-moon mounds of egg. And I often ripped them apart as I saw them fail, and resigned myself to scrambled eggs again that morning. I can make a French omelette maybe every third attempt now, and I’m fine with that.