No one: . . .
Me: Let’s talk about scrambled eggs.
Product managers love food
Most of the posts on this blog are about product management. There’s a lot of product managers who’ve become friends. And most of our conversations inevitably move on to food at some point. Is it that most product managers love food? Or that the ones that love food are the ones I become friends with? I think a bit of both. But I’ve got a theory. Product managers aren’t the ‘doers’ in their teams. If we’re doing our jobs well, we don’t tell teams how to do their jobs. We define what we need to achieve and why we need to achieve it. So much of our role is about listening, thinking and speaking. Hopefully in that order. And that can be frustrating. Sometimes we want to get ‘hands on’ and do something ourselves. But that’s not really the job. So my theory is: we develop deep, creative hobbies out in the real world to make up for it. So I think most product managers I’ve gotten to know have a deep love for food. It’s certainly true that I do.
The boy can cook
Once upon a team in a former life I had a moderately successful food blog called ‘The Boy Can Cook’. It doesn’t exist any more. I’d guess the only evidence it ever existed now would be to lookup historical registrars for the domain theboycancook.com, such is the ephemeral nature of publishing on the world wide web. If you looked at the history of this domain I think you’d see someone owned it from 2010-ish to 2014-ish. That person would be me. I might write about it another time.
That time was representative of a phase, probably early 2000s until mid-2010s, where me, my friends, and then my partner were ‘foodies’ in a London, social media-centric kind of way. We’d go to the pop-ups, the street food stalls, the markets, the restaurants that had an online buzz.Joined some pretty cool food events. We’d try out pretty challenging, frequently impressive recipes. The 2000s was a great time for this group of 20-somethings to expand our food horizons after growing up with Push Pops and alcopops in the 80s and 90s.
And then it dropped-off for a bunch of reasons. Personally, I still enjoy ‘buzzy’ food every now and again. But here, today, in 2022, I mostly enjoy everyday basics done well. Like scrambled eggs. It’s a decade-ish since I last published a post about food, a decade in which I switched to posts about product management. But variety is the spice of life so I’ll try switching back, just for a post.
So. Scrambled eggs. Eggs are a basic food that I eat a lot, as do my wife and my daughter. It gives me pleasure to make them well. As we’ve established, I’m a product manager looking for small, hands-on and creative outlets in my real life. There’s no ‘perfect way to cook eggs’, that’s clickbait. But there is a way that suits you and brings you a moment of enjoyment. And I’ve found that for me and my little family.
I prefer scrambled eggs that retain a ‘custard’ type of texture. Creamy and loose. There’s lots of recipes for this kind of scrambled egg all over the place. I’ve found the highest-ranking recipes are often from professional cooks. But cooking in a commercial kitchen is very different to cooking at home. If you’re running a commercial kitchen you have to focus on the speed and consistency needed to make dozens, maybe hundreds of dishes per meal time. So the recipes I’ve seen for loose, creamy scrambled eggs with a touch of the custard about them normally involve breaking and beating the eggs before putting them in the pan. They involve a lot of salt and butter to give the right taste. And they involve a lot of frantic mixing in the pan over a medium to high heat.
However, I don’t want to add a lot of butter and salt to my eggs at home. Salt’s not great for me as a man in my 40s who could stand to lower my blood pressure. And now I’m cooking for 3 of us. I don’t want to add loads of salt and butter to my daughter and wife’s diet either. So I’ve removed elements over the years, lowered the heat, slowed things down . . . and been surprised that I still get good results. Nowadays, I’d say I get better results without the salt and butter. Earlier this year I watched this video on Youtube called Gordon Ramsay vs Marco Pierre White Scrambled Eggs Battle. and it all made sense. Gordon Ramsay makes a variation of the standard creamy scrambled eggs recipe I’ve seen a lot (whisk loads, add things like salt, butter, etc), which I can imagine working in a commercial kitchen for reasons of speed and consistency. But Marco Pierre White cooks like he’s at home. And uses that to remove lots of typical ingredients and replace them with one: time. He takes his time. He cracks his eggs into the pan, over a low heat, and mixes them in the pan. He mixes them slowly. There’s no whisking. There’s little added. Using a low heat. Mixing constantly but gently. And taking time. These things naturally create loose, creamy eggs with a touch of the custard about them. Salt, butter and whisking aren’t required if you take a little more time. I’d gotten somewhere close to Marco’s approach via trial and error but learned several tips from that video that improved my eggs, tweaked a little for my own preferences, and now my method for scrambling eggs is as follows:
- For kit, I use a stainless steel pan (because the way I cook scrambled eggs they always stick a little and I can scrub stainless steel with impunity), a soft silicone spatula to mix the eggs with, and a pastry brush to coat the pan in oil
- To get ready, I spot the pan with a few drops of oil then brush them to coat the pan, trying to use as little oil as possible. I’m aiming to just enjoy the eggs as they are
- I use two eggs if I’m making them for myself. I crack them straight into the pan then put the pan on a low heat. Any eggs are nice. If I’ve thought in advance I try and get some nice eggs, especially for weekend breakfast
- I break the yolks with the spatula then mix the eggs slowly in the pan, continuing to do this until they’re starting to have the consistency I want for my breakfast
- I turn-off the heat when the eggs are nearly how I want them, using the residual heat to finish them off and reducing the chance that they’ll go over. Once they’re how I like them, serve and eat straight away.
I realise that I’m giving a method for scrambled eggs. Scrambled eggs! And that sounds bonkers. But the general principles of this approach are probably more useful than the specifics:
- There’s no such thing as the perfect recipe, that’s clickbait, but there is the recipe that suits you
- Recipes from commercial cooks based on meals made in commercial kitchens can be weird in the home
- Sometimes at home we have the chance to make basic dishes in a way that commercial kitchens can’t, making them simplier and healthier.
I find it satisfying to head off into the kitchen on a Saturday morning and make us all some scrambled eggs. For my wife, they go with toast and smoked salmon. For my daughter, just with smoked salmon. For me, my scrambled eggs on toast that’s covered in hot sauce. All eaten in our pyjamas at a time when we’d normally be hustling to work or nursery. A celebration of a weekend together.