Mrs Beeton Fried Eggs No. 1659
Fried Eggs in butter? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not some anti-butter fanatic. I like butter, eat it regularly throughout the day, and cook with it frequently. But this is a shocking amount of butter!
Goodness knows, the Victorians clearly loved their butter! The Fried Eggs are pretty much swimming in it, which is repellent to modern tastes. But there is method to the madness! Those eggs, drenched with that buttery sweetness, resting upon the saltiness of the bacon, stimulates those two senses in your tongue to create an awesome combination!
It’s just a shame that it’s such an unhealthy meal. I sometimes wonder whether high-fat, high-cholesterol diets were a big part of the reason the Victorians only had a life expectancy into their early fifties.
But life was a more high-energy process in the nineteenth century. Houses without central heating were so much colder than they are today. Activities tended to be labour-intensive. travel for most people meant walking or riding a horse. Without modern fibres, clothes were less effective at keeping people warm; especially if they were damp (which they frequently were in our climate) and drying was impractical (which it could be for days on end in winter).
So our ancestors used more calories simply staying alive, and a high-fat diet was probably more necessary than it is for us. Could that be the origin of the “full-English breakfast” I wonder — a need to stuff calories into oneself in preparation for the day?
I have to admit, not withstanding that my arteries went into shock just looking at this dish, it’s a terrific flavour and a superb way to serve fried eggs.
Fried Eggs recipe
INGREDIENTS – 4 eggs, 1/4 lb. of lard, butter or clarified dripping.
Mode.—Place a delicately-clean frying-pan over a gentle fire; put in the fat, and allow it to come to the boiling-point. Break the eggs into cups, slip them into the boiling fat, and let them remain until the whites are delicately set; and, whilst they are frying, ladle a little of the fat over them. Take them up with a slice, drain them for a minute from their greasy moisture, trim them neatly, and serve on slices of fried bacon or ham; or the eggs may be placed in the middle of the dish, with the bacon put round as a garnish.
Time.—2 to 3 minutes. Average cost, 1d. each; 2d. when scarce.
Sufficient for 2 persons. Seasonable at any time.