May 07 2011
In my previous life as a restaurant critic I used to calibrate the passage of time according to the seasonal foods, truffles being perhaps the most and plutocratic (and obvious) of condiments. It has to be said that I am ambivalent about truffles. I cannot help thinking that people feel obliged to cultivate a taste for the fungi that give off a smell akin to leaking gas, because they are expensive. Nevertheless there is something undeniably satisfying about seeing a truffle shaved at the table, the flakes falling like Alpine snow.
However, the truffle season is some months off, while the season for gulls’ eggs is upon us and my adoration for this gastronomic treasure knows few bounds. I love gulls’ eggs. The rich concentration of flavour, the slightly opalescent sheen and the veneer of gentlemanliness they impart to those who order them appeal to my innermost glutton and snob in equal parts. Every time I dip a freshly-peeled gull’s egg into the celery salt I feel that I have stepped into the pages of an Evelyn Waugh novel. Served properly, they should be followed by a tranche of turbot or an entire grilled Dover sole (off the bone) and then summer pudding.
Along with ceremonial occasions such as the royal wedding, provocative conceptual art, and “they only ever hurt their own kind” gangsters, gulls’ eggs are a towering example of what we do best in Britain.