Hard-boiled eggs. What a hundrum subject, no? Is there anywhere in the world where people don´t boil eggs? I doubt it. But, is there anywhere where they eat as many boiled eggs as we do in Spain? Still doubting.
I´d never given this subject much thought. Then once, over the course of the same week, three people from three different countries said to me "oh, you Spanish and your eggs. You´re obsessed. You put eggs in everything".
If Freud spoke Spanish (and were alive, of course) he´d utter a very loud Aha! at that. For in Spanish eggs are balls. So you could argue that it´s all some macho plot. Or else you could be sensible, and say that eggs are cheap protein, and this has always been a poor, hungry country.
But still, that can´t be all. It just doesn´t make sense that vegetables are always eaten with some form of egg on them. And that hard boiled eggs make their way onto every surface, from salads to soups to sandwiches vegetales to tapas of garbanzos. It´s a joke. I don´t mind a boiled egg every now and then, but I think one must draw the line at considering them a sort of complement to salt and pepper.
To my mind, the worst insult is the dish referred to as huevos a la bandera española, or Spanish flag eggs. It consists of hard boiled eggs, hollowed, filled with whatever you can come by, smothered in bechamel, and then covered with two wide bands of tomato sauce, and a middle band of the chopped yolks.
This is clearly the invention of some separatist republican who could think of nothing worse to do to the flag. Burning one is kinder to the national symbol, I promise. Served hot, these eggs achieve the texture of the costliest rubber. Quite a feat.
Actually, the colour scheme might improve if people didn´t spoil the whole concept by doing what I beleive in technical terms is called "boiling them to buggery". Who wants a pale yellow yalk neatly ringed by grey? Come on, people! It´s grey! The only time that´s acceptable in food is in caviar. Really.
I don´t boil eggs very often, and so every time I have to look up the method. This annoys me, so I´m going to see if by writing it here, I can imprint it on my mind.
If the egg is cold from the fridge, put it in when the water is cold. If not, lower it carefully when the water comes to the boil. Once the thing is at a rolling boil, count the minutes. I think five is good for soft boiled, six should do it so it won´t be runny , and (update) eight for a firm one you can use in a sandwich.
Nigella says to put in a matchstick in the water so that the shell doesn´t crack. I don´t know if that works, but I think it´s fun.