We played outside. Our house was in a new neighborhood without many shade trees, and without many kids, either. So I played with my sisters in the back yard or the driveway or the edge of the cornfield behind the house, or in the vacant lot two plots down the street. Sometimes we were joined by the girl across the street and sometimes by the boy from the big house down the street on the corner, neither of whom had any siblings near our ages.
I'll bet it was Brian who first told us one day that it was hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. He was two or three years older than I was, so he would know expressions like that. Maybe he even knew how hot it had to be to fry an egg. He may have led us to believe that he had carried out this experiment already with some of his more grown-up friends. He was more daring than we ever were, because, after all, he was a boy and he was older. Still, I don't believe that he really had fried an egg on the sidewalk. I know he didn''t try it with us.
This week it was hot enough in Spain so that the plastic clothes pins I sometimes use to hang laundry on the line on my upstairs terrace were popping left and right from the heat. Snap, crackle and pop--no sooner did I pinch one open than a portion of it split off and fell onto the tile terrace. It happened not once, not twice, but several times. That's when I wondered whether it was hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, or at least on the terrace tiles.
I didn't spend a lot of time designing this experiment. I just went downstairs to the kitchen and grabbed an egg out of the refrigerator and the egg timer from the refrigerator door. I came back upstairs, cracked the egg and dropped it carefully on a terrace tile as far away from my clean laundry as I could get. I set the timer for five minutes and escaped back inside to my air-conditioned office.
When the egg timer went off five minutes later, I dashed out to see the egg. No difference. I set the timer again for five minutes. This time I noticed a couple bubbles in the egg white on one side of the egg. Five minutes later the bubbles were still there but had not changed. No change after the next 15 minutes, either.
I set the timer for 30 minutes and went downstairs to prepare lunch. When I checked on my egg just before taking the salads to the downstairs sun room, there were a few bubbles in the yolk of the egg. Back downstairs for a half-hour lunch in the sun room--where the temperature gauge outside said 100 degrees F. in the shade. My post-lunch egg check (this was after an hour and a half of "frying") revealed that the yellow had broken enough for three small spurts to bleed out of the yolk. It was really not appetizing. I was glad that I had already had lunch and that I had not eaten eggs.
|Not quite hot enough to fry an egg on the terrace tile|
I didn't clean up the mess from this experiment until the next morning, and that was a mistake, because by that time two ants were on their way into the feast. But I shooed them away and scooped up the egg with a wad of paper towel. Underneath the outer curvature of the yolk it was still a little bit runny, just the way some people like their fried or poached eggs. But they wouldn't have wanted this one.