Name: Fay Wertheimer
Scran: Hamin Eggs
Mother Language: German/English
Audio Transcript: English
“Hi. I’m Fay. I’m 78. And, in actual fact, the picture I show you, which is quite revolting, is of an oil, and water, and egg, and onion-encrusted pan, that was originally white and enamel; not that you can tell. The brown stuff is encrusted oil after many years cooking raw eggs in this, in the oven, for anything up to ten hours. And the result is, that the eggs, because they’ve got onions in, and onion-skins – and that’s your cheat, I put a bit of coffee in – they end up with these eggs called Hamin eggs. And this is actually a Middle-Eastern delicacy.
The reason why it’s quite odd for me to be doing this, is because I am not of Middle Eastern extraction. My ex-husband’s family, half of them, came from Syria. And this is one particular cooking custom, one gastronomic delight, that I decided to adopt. They are called Hamin eggs, and I think I should know what it means, but I’m not sure. But, instead of nipping into the fridge and having a biscuit or a bit of cake, or whatever you want, or even my late Mother’s beautiful home-roasted almond toffee – which was my other option – [you have] these Hamin eggs.
You see these dark brown skins, and inside them, you have a dark brown egg. The rather smelly, farty smell of a boiled egg is completely eliminated, by putting a bit of oil and water and salt, onions and onion-skins into the water. And the eggs as well. And putting it quite cold into the oven, and leaving it, say, overnight. The brown of the coffee, used coffee, grains, the onions – I don’t know what the brown in that is, and I don’t have a clue – anyway, they end up very dark brown, and there is a beautiful taste.
The aroma, of which I don’t think I can actually describe… but anyway, that quite offensive hard boiled egg smell…no longer is. I leave them in overnight, and when people come, very often some people go “Urghh!”. But the majority of people say, “Oh! that’s interesting! Let me try it.” And that’s a sign of how much better modern generations are with food than they were 20, 30, 40 years ago.
So these eggs are a bit like, people make Easter eggs and they colour them. These are left overnight, in the water, as it boils up and it seeps through, it permeates the shell. It colours the albumen which is no longer white, coz it’s a sort of semi-coffee colour, and it leaves a beautiful aftertaste in the yolks. It’s an alternative as I say, to dipping into the fridge and getting fat on the cakes which I like just as much.
It is unusual because it has no relevance at all to my background apart from my ex-background. And it’s one of the few things that I decided I liked as much as anything else. Now, if I were, genuinely, as we call Sephardi, that’s Eastern Jewish or Middle-Eastern Jewish, I probably could speak a little bit of Arabic or a bit of Hebrew…, but as it is I can’t. And these Hamin eggs, anytime you’re going through Cheadle, which is part of Stockport, which is part of Greater Manchester, which is ten boroughs… you are more that welcome to come in, to peek in my fridge and to have one of these Hamin eggs.
And the fun is actually, so you take them out of the pan which, as I say, is pretty revolting to look at, but that is just encrusted oil over the years, with bits of coffee and goodness knows what. And then to get the shells off, you get to roll them on your working surface top. You don’t bash them because you’ll crack…the egg is cooked, but you’ll still crack it. So you roll it over the working surface. Away comes the egg shell. You serve it. Sometimes, some people like to slice them with an egg slicer. Some people like salad cream with it. And those are my Hamin eggs.
I don’t really know if there’s any religious, or umm, I don’t know, or any particular customary importance to these. All I know is that it is one thing I actually adopted from my ex marriage. Maybe, it’s the best thing apart from the children! So, come to Cheadle. Don’t look at my pan. But, that’s why it’s that disgusting colour. And that’s just encrusted oil after years and years being bunged in the oven overnight, and emptied in the morning, and eaten throughout the week. Thank you.”