How to test for a really good egg

Delia, Valerie, David, Ken - they're not a glamorous bunch, are they? But we love them because we believe in them, says Hester Lacey

When Delia Smith says "Jump!" our only question is "How high?" If Delia says one particular omelette pan is the tops, 90,000 of them walk off the shelves. Her recipes strip supermarket shelves of cranberries and coriander, and her chocolate truffle torte was responsible for clearing Europe of its entire stock of liquid glucose. She is even held responsible for increasing sales of eggs by 54 million since her latest series, How To Cook, guided viewers through the complexities of dealing with the pesky things (5 million watched her demonstrate how to identify an egg that is past its freshest by floating it in a glass of water). When an upstart like Gary Rhodes dares suggest that Delia is too simplistic there is uproar. How dare he!

Delia is not one of the current crop of flamboyant television-personality chefs who tend to concentrate on egos rather than eggs. There is something about her that we trust. She is no fly-by-night, but a stayer - her Complete Cookery Course remains steadfastly in print, she has sold more than 10 million books, and has been broadcasting regularly for 25 years.

She is fast on the way to becoming a national institution, in fact: joining others who, while never exactly fashionable or trendy, carry far more clout than any interchangeable flavour-of-the-month face. They may not be young and hip, but they are all-round good eggs; if Delia put any of these in a glass of water they would pass the good-egg test with flying colours. They haven't been hyped to boiling-point by a sharp PR campaign, they have bubbled up on their own merits. We trust them in the same way we trust Delia to recognise a good omelette pan when she sees one.

If Barry Norman says a film is worth watching, we'll give it a go, and if we don't like it we'll forgive him. If David Attenborough says that the secret lives of birds are more than interesting enough to fill out a major television series, we start to find the habits of the common sparrow fascinating. Even those who find Terry Wogan's stream-of-consciousness a little too whimsical must feel some affection for the man himself. And John Peel is a cult figure; we even read his column about his family life. Tony Blair might not want Ken Livingstone as mayor of London but there are enough voters with a soft spot for old Red Ken to make success a distinct possibility.

Joanna Lumley has the self-deprecating good humour that is part of being a good egg, while Judi Dench does not. Sue McGregor is one, Victoria Wood is another, while Anna Ford is too spiky. Gary Lineker and Dawn French are well on the way to becoming ones, and Des Lynam was one (before being caught in flagrante). And Valerie Singleton can do no wrong in the eyes of the millions who felt they knew her during the years she presented Blue Peter: a far cry from today's identikit overbright young upstarts.

Good eggs are rarely involved in scandals and they do not welcome over- effusive publicity or take part in promotional stunts. They are supremely confident and do not need to stoop to gimmickry. Delia Smith just stands there and cooks, without the aid of a silly hair-do, silly voice, silly jokes, tacked-on fake "personality", motorcycle and/or set of hilariously incompetent studio guests. Food writers and journalists have never loved her - she has been called bland and mediocre. A Sunday Times profile of Delia once called her "possibly the most boring television cook in history". But good eggs aren't boring, they are simply solid and straightforward: far better than being a mere flash in the pan.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links