An egg for a child
One of her first food words was “uova”, eggs, which also happen to be her favourite breakfast, usually soft boiled and eaten with a spoon (a bit messy as she insists on feeding herself) or fried, sunny side down. It’s one of the few foods I can easily get my little girl eat.
Partly I think it’s the fascination with the egg itself – that hard shell outside, smooth and weighty in her little dimpled hands, then so fragile when cracked.
It’s so important for me that she learns early where her food comes from and how it all works, so we’ve been regularly visiting a friend’s lovely farm in San Gimignano as well as my sister in law’s countryside house to see their chicks and hens and other farm animals. It’s only helped to confirm the decision that we’ll soon be getting our own hens for the garden.
I also let her get messy as there’s probably no better way to get to know food than to stick your hands in it and feel it or taste it.
I let her crack the eggs when I’m baking. She picks one up and holds it firmly in her hand, studying it at first before giving it a stroke as if she was patting a small animal and then a little cuddle. She has watched me carefully when I’ve been baking and cracking eggs, she’s always got her eye on those eggs. She looks at me as if for approval, then leans towards the table top with her egg and gives it a good, hard tap to crack it.
And this is how we become little cooks.
This recipe is one that always makes me smile when I read it. It’s from my favourite old cookbook, Pellegrino Artusi‘s 1891 Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. An egg for a child, or un uovo per un bambino, Artusi calls it.
It’s nothing more than a fluffy, eggy cream, as simple as can be. Take a fresh egg, preferably one that you know was just laid. Separate the yolk, putting it in a tea cup with a couple teaspoons of sugar. Whisk the white to stiff peaks and fold it through the yolk. Serve it with soft bread to dip or on it’s own with a teaspoon. My mother in law used to make this for my husband when he was a little boy (and his grandmother made this for his father) but without the fluffy egg white, just the yolk and sugar, a sort of raw zabaione.
Artusi’s egg for a child
If you’re worried about serving raw egg, which when you know it’s a good, fresh organic egg, you shouldn’t, you can cook this in a small bowl set over a bain marie (double broiler), a gently simmering pot of water, for a couple of minutes. Be sure not to let the bowl touch the water and do not cook too long or over too high heat or you’ll lose the wonderful light fluffiness and you’ll end up scrambling the egg.
- 1 very fresh, organic, free range egg
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
Separate the egg, placing the yolk in a teacup and the whites in a small bowl. Add the sugar to the yolk and stir with a fork to combine. Whisk the whites to stiff peaks and fold through the yolk. Serve as is or with some soft bread for dipping into.