In a local restaurant, I overheard a Western woman complaining, “What is this? I asked for fried eggs! These are scrambled. Don't you understand English?” The waiter left and brought her sunny-side-up eggs.
There are a couple of problems with this scene. The first is that she was being very rude. Some patience is needed with communication between people who have different first languages. I do appreciate the patience of the waiter, who actually had good English.
The second problem is that this Western woman does not understand English and food as well as she thinks. Scrambled eggs are fried! They are not boiled, baked or poached. She asked for fried eggs and that was what she was given. She should be quiet and eat them. Learning how to cook eggs might also help.
In this article and the next, I will cover the words used to talk about eggs and how to cook them. In English an egg is assumed to be a chicken's egg, unless specified. I like turkey eggs, but they are difficult to find. Duck and pigeon eggs are also found in Hong Kong.
The first part of an egg is the hard, thin outside. It is called the shell. Inside the shell is a yellow part called the yolk and a clear part called the egg white. The egg white does not become white until it is cooked.
Frying and boiling are the more common ways to cook eggs. Many eggs are cooked by frying in oil or butter. If it is cooked on one side, it is called sunny side up. If it is cooked on both sides it is called over easy. If the white and yolk are mixed and fried, it is called scrambled eggs (sometimes stirred with milk). Eggs can be boiled, in their shell, until they are soft or hard, but should not be cooked at too high a temperature. Cooking an egg in water, without its shell, is poaching an egg and is different from other uses of the word poaching.
There are many ways of cooking eggs and they are used in many recipes, including bread, custard and Yorkshire pudding. People even drink them raw in eggnog. (Eggnog used to be drunk by the British aristocracy. However today it is more popular in Canada and America during Christmas.) The more common words have been covered in this article. In the next one, I will go into much more detail.