A while back now I watched a clip of the Afrika Korps frying eggs on a tank in the Libyan desert. This was backed up by various accounts from both sides on this very topic, making it quite a common occurrence during the Africa campaigns.
Having tried it for ourselves in the Sahara last year, we failed miserably. The bonnet of the car just wasn’t hot enough. We did manage to cook one on the cylinder head but a) that was cheating, b) it wasn’t coated in the type of oil normally associated with culinary creation and c) it smelt strongly of and thus would probably taste of petrol. Not really the outcome we were looking for.
So, being April, we put it down to the fact that we probably needed the extra burn of the summer months to create the required heat to transform our car into a big blue Rayburn.
With a trip to the US planned for later in the year, more specifically Death Valley, I put aside my disappointment safe in the knowledge that the temperature there would surely convert our Rayburn requirement into a furnace. bring it on!
So as the time approached I monitored the temperature on line and watched the mercury sizzle around the 120f mark. Would this be hot enough? My only other issue, or some might say godsend, was that my usual partner in crime was dicing with driving death in Bali. Well his wife Ellie was. Si was having a ball!
To assist with my home economics retake I enlisted the help of my travelling companions Katy, Sam, Debs and Tony, who although keen to assist we’re entirely sceptical about my chances of success. “Less of the negative vibes man!”
I was so confident, I decided to go for the full english and try a bit of bacon and a few baked beans as well.
Now the car was just a tiny bit better than that which Si and I usually rag around challenges, a spangly new Chevy Tahoe V8. It was also hired so a deal of care was required.
As we drove across from Yosemite National Park we stopped in Independance and visited a small supermarket to pick up the provisions and a couple of aluminium trays to cook it in as I didn’t fancy getting the bill for wrecking the Chevys paint job.
As we headed towards Death Valley the altitude started to drop and the mercury rise; descending from just under 10k feet to sea level arriving in Stovepipe Wells at about 4p.m. and a very dry 111 degrees.
Out we jumped in slo mo while we cleared our ears from the descent and positioned the tray on the roof of the car. We popped over to the shops for a snoop and had a nose around, hoping that by the time we returned our tin frying pan would be furnace like, or ironically stove like!
Out came the provisions. Tony slapped a rasher into the tray and I cracked the egg. The distinct sizzle of bacon, the smoky aroma, and oh,the anticipation of it. Success! All of which remained condemned to my frustrated, and increasingly hot head!
As with our African campaign failure. Not daunted we decided to go back to the shops for a second look and leave it for a bit. Ice cream seemed a good bet and the sun wasn’t going a anywhere fast. So with an amble back through the T shirts, snow globes and fridge magnets, our hunt for ice cream began.
Now being Stove pipe Wells, you haven’t got a plethora of shops or in deed goods to choose from, but we managed to find ice cream, and the whole process took a big fat couple of minutes. Lets face it,there’s only so many ye ha hats and associated tourist tat you can look at before boredom sets in. So back to the truck it was.
As we wandered back over I was willing the egg to at least be on the turn. Translucent was a dirty word and I pushed all such thoughts from my head. I thought back to the old spaghetti western days with Mr Eastwood pegged out in the desert, catching some rays, plotting revenge, and getting nicely crisped up. That’s what happens in the desert……..isn’t it? I debated with myself which film it had been; The Good, the bad, and the……why is my egg still raw? Not even a tinge of white.
It was at this point that I looked into my compadres faces and saw that I told you so smirk. Boy would it have felt good to prove them all wrong? Damn right it would. The sun was still blazing away and the fat lady hadn’t even started her sound check! Plan B.
Earlier that day after trashing my full English idea, Sam had piped up that she had indeed seen a similar program, but this one depicted someone cooking an egg on the tarmac, actually in Death Valley.
We all agreed we should drive a bit further down the road and see if the mercury increased, before trying the road option. As we set off it did indeed begin to creep up. 112, ……..114, ……..115, …….117 .. Go on just a touch more…….117 it was.
We were now pulled over at the side of the road. Funny thing was, considering we were in the middle of the desert there was an awful lot of traffic about. A huge amount of masked up cars. New models cloaked with hidden identities being tested in the searing heat. What more inspiration did you need? This wasn’t a desert, it was a test facility for those brave enough to endure it and push the boundaries of physics.
So, not wanting to waste another egg, I carefully crouched by the roadside. Shit, thats hot! having burnt my knee I gently slid the egg out of the tray and onto our asphalt hob.
Once again we all stood looking at the egg and a slither of bacon. Not a sizzle, not a hint of white. But then, just then I saw it. Was that a bubble appearing in our egg? Was it the merest of hints that at last some heat transfer was taking place? No, it was a piece of gravel.
Undeterred there we stood. Hot, sweaty and in a very British line, all peering down at our creation. We were now starting to draw some attention from passers by, who seemed equally keen to see what was going on and they all peered out of their windows as they drove past.
I doubt they saw the egg. Probably obscured by the line on the carriageway and the white was clearer than when we started. So just 5 Brits in a line, in the desert, seemingly praying. How frightfully quaint!
After a few minutes of paying homage to the egg, Tony suggested we may want to wait and watch from the car as a) it had air con, b) it probably wouldn’t look so strange as the egg cult we had created and c) unlike our breakfast treat, we were indeed cooking!
We sat on the side of that road for 20 minutes. Watching paint dry has a new adversary. The stubborn egg! No pun intended, beaten again!
Egg 2 – Twospanners 0