A big thank you to all those kind people who took the time (and bother) to enter The Greasy Spoon "Literary Boiled Eggs" competition. To remind you: I asked readers to describe the art of boiling an egg, but in the style of their favourite writer. The prize is a copy of Grub Street's "A Taste of Portugual".
The standard of entries was high. There were some cracking efforts. Honourable mentions must go to Will "Worm" Sterling for his "hard-boiled" pastiche of the crime writer, Jame Ellroy; Nick Good for his flamboyant interpretation of a Dorian Gray style kitchen bust-up, and Jody Porter for his elegant take on the poetry of William Carlos Williams.
But we have a clear winner. Please step forward one Katrina Dixon. Of all the entries, hers was the one which most clearly identified with the spirit of Greasy Spoonery. I also happen to be a fan of Edgar Allan Poe's creepy short story, The Black Cat- so I'm biased.
Edgar Allan Poe's How To Boil An Egg
I cannot conceive of how I first thought of it, but in the hours between midnight and dawn a perverse notion came to haunt me. True, the disease had seized hold of my senses like a demon - but oh, what a demon! A fiend of gourmet tastes! Hark, let me tell you!
You may fancy me mad, but madmen know nothing of breakfast. As the first pale light of dawn dissolved the nightmares of the night - oh, what a night! - I slipped into the kitchen - as dank and fearful a place as ever I have beheld. A gloom descended over me, agitated by a faint shivering. I had not worn my slippers. I ventured towards the cooker, eggbox in one hand, took one egg - one brown, speckled egg - and placed it quickly in the saucepan of cold water. I could not look. Why, I cannot say. A great fear overtook me, as if in this saucepan, this metal beast, my own wretched heart lay, rather than a simple egg.
I regained my composure - I was not mad! Yet at the moment of lighting the gas burner my weak frame shuddered. Such a flame as might have come from hell! My hands shook, and my fingers went tapping of their own accord, tap-tap-tapping on the counter - no! no more tapping! - as I waited for the water to boil. I dared not breathe. And then - a shriek such as only the damned might offer overtook me - the water had boiled!
Two minutes and the egg would be boiled. Boiled such that I could depart this loathsome place and be done with this distasteful task. But that noise - barely audible at first - was increasing with every second. Louder it arose and yet louder. How could anyone bear it? This ungodly spluttering of boiling water. This sinister bubbling. When would it stop! A great rage suddenly filled me and I fell to my knees, praying for anything to drown this noise. Anything would be better than this fateful agony! Louder - louder still - the infernal noise would not abate! No, I must scream - I must surely die!
I do not know what I might have done had the egg-timer not announced its shrill desist at that very point of my unravelling, yet it did. The terror was over. The deed was done. The egg was boiled!