Solar egg frying

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's hot enough to fry an egg on a sidewalk.

For sure, it's hot out there.

Several summers ago, at high noon, I did try frying an egg outside. I found a piece of discarded metal, laid it on a concrete walkway, and proceeded to fry an egg.

I cracked the egg and it slid out onto the metal "skillet."

Nothing happened for a long while, maybe 30 minutes, then it began to congeal around the outer edges.

It seemed that the yolk and inner whites would not fry.

I began to sweat and decided to go indoors for a breather from the heat.

A couple of hours later, I returned.

Sure enough, more of the egg had congealed but the egg yolk still hadn't cooked.

So I broke the yolk and went back indoors.

Later I again returned to find a fried omelet. Not firm, but passable.

It wasn't nearly as pretty as an egg fried indoors on the range, but it passed the test.

This morning on the Internet, I researched the technique for frying an egg on a sidewalk.

Instructions said it needs to be158 degrees Fahrenheit.

It suggested using a piece of aluminum foil (pan-sized), then bend the edges up, so the raw egg doesn't slide onto the pavement.

Crack the egg onto the foil.

If you intend to eat the egg (or eggs), first add some butter or oil on the foil, then salt and pepper the egg to taste.

From all I've read and heard, the sidewalk egg frying attempt is usually unsuccessful, but there is a tip you can use.

To speed up the process, use a magnifying glass or mirror to focus the sun's rays onto the foil. That's cheating a little but it might turn a botched attempt into a success.

I've read that Oatman, Ariz., has an annual solar egg cooking contest at high noon on the 4th of July.

The rules are fairly simple: every contestant gets two eggs and can use any kind of pan, utensil or "gizmo," but he must cook the egg with solar power only, in 15 minutes. The judges are looking for the most "edible" egg.

The contest, which has been held every year since 1991, was started by Fred Eck, who manages a temporary employment agency in Bullhead City. There's no charge to compete and two official eggs and aluminum foil are furnished free.

According to the Oatman Chamber of Commerce website, contestants used to fry eggs right on the sidewalk, but that made cleanup too difficult. "It was too hard to clean up the mess," a spokesman said.

Now contestants use pans, aluminum pie plates, mirrors or other reflective devices such as CDs and magnifying glasses.

The Chamber warns that the participants "are responsible for protecting their eggs from the burros." The website explains there are wild burros roaming the hills above Oatman. They descended from the pack mules used by gold miners and were set free when the gold mines in Oatman and gold roads closed during World War II.

A few of the burros regularly wander into town looking for handouts from the tourists. The Chamber of Commerce asks that tourists feed carrots to the animals rather than junk food, but apparently eggs are also on the burros' menu.

Oatman, a tourist town, is kept as authentic as possible as the old western gold mining town it once was.

It attracts thousands of tourists each year.

No egg-zageration.