Could there be a better British picnic food than the humble Scotch egg? We don't think so …
We hope you’re sitting down because today we bring you worrying news: a school in Colchester has banned the humble Scotch egg from children’s lunch boxes by schoolteachers and labelled them junk food.
Cue sharp intake of breath and sympathy cards for the poor old Scotch egg.
Leaving aside the junk food comments (although it’s worth noting that the school doesn’t seem to have banned biscuits), let’s not shoot down the humble Scotch egg while it’s going through a well-deserved revival.
Save our Scotch eggs, indeed.
These crisp, golden orbs have a lot going for them: they’re conveniently hand-shaped, could easily masquerade as the perfect portable mini fry-up and, not to mention, are utterly delicious. Heck, they can even do vegetarians proud.
The Scotch egg has also got the better of nature – replacing an inedible shell with sausage meat coated in breadcrumbs, to create what can only be described as a complete little parcel, is a stroke of genius.
Now, it’s not just sausage meat that can swaddle your egg. Oh no. Venison, smoked haddock, black pudding, smoked salmon, and then mushrooms or chickpeas (if you want to make them meat-free) all throw their caps into the egg-shaped ring.
And then there are those extras: garlic, thyme, paprika, mustard ... the options are (almost) endless.
If they’re done to perfection the yolk will dribble down your chin when you bite into it.
The messier, the better.
Photo: Getty Images / Alin Lyre
Where did it all start?
Ye of olde English origins, the Scotch egg was created by luxury food emporium Fortnum & Mason in 1738. The story goes that the portable snack was invented at their Piccadilly headquarters for their more affluent customers.
Piccadilly was full of coaching inns in the 18th century, so people needed an easy-to-hold snack to scoff on the way to their country estates. This was obviously in a world before sushi boxes.
After all, it is small enough to fit in a handkerchief.
However, as with all good British food, there isn’t just one claimant to creating it. Another story goes that the picnic food evolved from northern India’s nargisi kofta (that’s an egg covered in minced meat and served with curry), which returning soldiers introduced to England.
I want a meaty mouth-sized morsel, right this second
Where: Borough Market, London
What: crisp on the outside and molten yolk on the inside. There’s also a good selection: chorizo, beetroot and lentil, cheddar and smoked bacon, chilli pork, tomato and basil. Make sure you go for the meal box and you’ll get sweet potato fries and a rocket salad, too
We say: this is otherwise known as heaven for Scotch egg lovers
Where: Highgate, London
What: these homemade Scotch eggs are a safe bet: traditional and served warm with a runny yolk and grind of black pepper. Simple but very good
We say: stop off for a Scotch egg and a pint and then head off for a walk on Hampstead Heath
Where: 7 butchers across London
What: if Scotch eggs without a set yolk just feel wrong to you, then The Ginger Pig will be your best friend here. Try the smoky bacon Scotch egg – you won’t regret it
We say: these are good heated up at home or popped into your picnic hamper (if you can resist their charms for that long)
Where: Fulham, London
What: a shredded venison Scotch egg with an oozing yolk that's dusted with Maldon sea salt. Perfection
We say: the Scotch eggs at this place have something of a cult following, and rightly so. The downside? Tables are hard to come by
No, I want to make one …