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I bet you think you know how to fry an egg. I bet you crack the egg into a bowl with a fork, beat it and beat it, making a funny gravity-defying whorl in the bowl until you dump it into the ready-and-waiting pan, with melted butter. Then you stirra-stirra-stirra until it’s just about done, turn off the flame, and Bob’s your uncle (or whatever those crazy Brits say).

I’ll bet you’ve been doing it so long as you were able to cook, weird incredible edible egg commercials dancing a jig in your brain, and darnitall with the cholesterol thing, which if you eat free range eggs turns out to be less of an issue than we originally thought anyway.

So you think you know how to fry an egg. I thought I knew, too. Until I came to Chile and had people stare, wide-eyed and astonished at the process. Scrambled eggs here in Chile, first of all are preferably made in a paila, which is a tiny two-handled pan reminiscent of a paellera (paella pan). Secondly, first you put the butter (or oil) in the pan, and then you crack the egg into it. Scrambling happens in the pan and never completely mixes the yema (yolk) with the clara (white), leaving a streaky or speckled egginess for you to eat. Most people seem to prefer the eggs pretty wet, which I suppose is a matter of taste, but the whole white/yolk thing was such a surprise. When I asked about it, I was told (on several occasions) that scrambling an egg completely “cuts the flavor.”

Poor estadounidenses (and other nationalities). So foolish. We don’t even know how to fry an egg. And don’t even get me started on strirring sugar into coffee. It’s like a tiny little up-and-down butter churning experiment. But at the end all you get is sweet coffee, not butter, which is a shame because butter is so delicious, and sweet coffee is such a disappointment. Unless it’s iced. Summertime here in the southern hemisphere, don’t you know.