The poaching of eggs is a subject best introduced by the eccentric Dr Kitchiner (1818) who has this to say as a preface to the mysterious ‘Moost Aye’s receipt to Poach Eggs’: ‘The Beauty of a Poached Egg, is to have the yolk seen blushing through the white, which should only be just sufficiently hardened, to form a transparent Veil for the Egg.’
However, this omitted one important step in the preparation of an aesthetically satisfying poached egg. A little vinegar must be added to the boiling water before the egg goes in. The reason for this is that the acid promotes coagulation and reduces the tendency for long streamers of egg white to form. It is also helpful to whirl the water round and then break the egg into the centre of the whirlpool.