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I wrote this piece, about spontaneously spending el Día de los Muertos with a family in Oaxaca, several years ago; it’s based on an experience...
What: One of those not-so-unusual dishes given an unusual name (see also: bangers and mash), boiled eggs and soldiers are simply soft-boiled eggs served in an egg cup with toast, which is sliced into long strips for easy dunking in the runny yolk. No one’s really sure why it’s called what it is—someone might have compared the toast pieces to soldiers in formation, or maybe there’s a Humpty-Dumpty (who was an egg, remember) and “king’s soldiers” connection—but likely a British mom out there just got creative getting her kids to eat their eggs, and this worked like a charm…so well, in fact, that the kids Down Under caught on too! Of course, it’s just as appropriate for adults to eat this for breakkie. You can’t do a greasy fry-up every day.
Where: Our eggs and soldiers are from Bill’s Cafe (28 St. Martin’s Courtyard, map), a cozy restaurant and grocery mini-chain in Covent Garden. It’s a bit tricky to locate; we found it off of Slingsby Place.
When: Mon-Fri, 8am-11pm; Sat, 9am-11pm; Sun, 9am-10:30pm
Order: The boiled eggs and soldiers here (£3.95) are standard issue, nicely presented in their egg cups with a pile of sea salt and black pepper off to the side; the toast strips are lightly buttered. Our only gripe was that the eggs were cooked maybe 30 seconds too long, so the yolks weren’t as runny as we’d prefer. To be safe, we’d request the eggs extra soft next time. Bill’s also does a good “light” vegetarian version of the full English breakfast, with poached eggs, tomato, mushroom, hummus, guacamole, and optional baked beans and/or bubble and squeak.
Good to know: Unless your mother is making them for you, the eggs will be fully shelled when they come to your table. Use a knife or spoon to slice off the top, or else get to the dirtier work of tapping and peeling the upper shell.
Alternatively: Try it at any good breakfast joint, like the café at Modern Pantry (47-48 St. John’s Square, map) in Clerkenwell, where Vegemite-spread soldiers give it an Aussie accent, or in Soho at Dean Street Townhouse (69-71 Dean St., map).
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