When you’re topped with a head that is buzzing with tiredness and tailed with stinging pavement feet, ten minutes in the supermarket at eight in the evening feels like descending into a seventh sickening circle of greedy, seedy consumer hell.Voraciously hungry, elbowing fellow sallow wage-slaves and flashing a rolling animal eye, you are cruelly confronted with nothing but curling, curd-coloured remnants pumped full of water, ash and hormone. All the lamb has legged it, the half-decent steak split; the sole tray of chicken looks like a flabbily coddled attempt to mould butterscotch Angel Delight.
And on the way to the ready meals, you hit the eggs: a purgatorial aisle of lurid, festive orbs, their coy cut-outs letting primary-coloured patent packaging peep through. On better days, in better moods, they might represent nothing more than a harmless, kitsch sugar hit – the thought of the cheap chocolaty animal fat sloshing round your gums like a dental duvet might even have you reaching for the nearest box – but on a late Wednesday evening, when the dark urban drizzle has drummed its way into your heart, they epitomise the cardboard-throned and foil-flounced antimatter of life: empty calories, empty shells, empty celebration of a godless world. You flee.
But then, home achieved and gin lightly tonicked, the fridge offers forth a slice of hope with its slice of tubular light. Blessedly, unexpectedly the door shelf offers up three perfect exemplars of the real thing, clad in silky, speckled, Madonna-blue. Glob of butter and crush of garlic duly panned, the gorgeous globes are cracked, whisked, peppered, milked and poured in. Time slows. No stirring. No forcing. Just patience, meek and mild.
Piled on a piece of devil-dark rye bread, anointed with a chlorophyll bright bush of parsley, this humble dish is pure rejuvenating spring. These eggs speak of Eostre, not Easter; this is no soothing sop of childish comfort to dull the doctrinal brain. This is a savoury, sloppy, primal mouthful of embryo that makes you realise life may be nothing but a blossoming of creamy goo, but by God, life tastes good.