Spring has finally sprung. The days are pleasantly warm, and if you haven't already done so, it's time to dust off the picnic basket, shake out the picnic rug and venture outdoors. Of course, food-obsessed as we are here at GT, the first question we ask is: what shall we eat?
Picnic food must be sturdy enough to transport, yet light enough to enjoy on a warm day. It must be packed full of flavour and preferably capable of being eaten without the fuss and frippery of cutlery. And that's where Scotch eggs come into the picture. It's no coincidence that in the UK, they're sometimes known as picnic eggs.
You might assume that these ovoid beauties are of Scottish extraction, but no. That most English of department stores, Fortnum & Mason, invented the Scotch egg in 1738, according to its archives, as a portable snack for long-distance travellers. Another school of thought, however, has it that Scotch eggs are descendants of the Indian dish nargisi kofta, a highly spiced version served in a yoghurt-based sauce. The Fortnum & Mason account offers an explanation of the word Scotch in the name: that it refers to the verb "to scotch", meaning to cut.
A Scotch egg is typically a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat mixture, crumbed and deep-fried. What makes it perfect for a picnic is that it's most often served cold. There are, of course, variations on the egg parcel theme. A Manchester egg involves a pickled egg wrapped in minced pork and Lancashire black pudding, while a Worcester egg is pickled in Worcestershire sauce before being wrapped in sausage meat and white pudding. There are even mini-versions, in which quail eggs are used in place of hen eggs.
We've stayed fairly traditional for our Scotch eggs - why mess with the tried and true? - and served them with a lemon-spiked mayonnaise for dipping. Offer them warm or make a batch to pack for your next picnic - if they're good enough for ye olde pommy traveller, they're certainly good enough for the modern Aussie picnic.
Scotch eggs are perfect picnic food, writes Emma Knowles, being portable tidy mouthfuls packed with flavour.