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This Britain

Minor British Institutions: The Scotch egg

You know you have a British institution, minor or major, when its origins are lost in a sizzle of contradictions. The invention of the Scotch egg is claimed by and for, among others, Fortnum & Mason, India, and Sir Walter Scott.

You might wonder why a dingy-hued ball of breadcrumbs concealing sausagemeat and a hard-boiled egg is so contested, until you taste it. To the uncomplicated palate of the true Brit, the Scotch egg is sheer bliss, an unbeatable adornment to any occasion where a table is not available.

To the questing imagination of the top chef, the Scotch egg is an irresistible challenge: Heston Blumenthal, quail; Tom Kerridge, puréed crayfish – they've all had a go. They should leave it out: what the British mock, usually they love; that's why the SE is available everywhere, even (perhaps mostly) at petrol stations.

Interestingly, there is a Brighton-based Japanese breakcore DJ called Scotch Egg who throws them at his audiences; no reports so far of casualties.