Eggs fried gently in butter

Socrates Satrapoulos took a small skillet from a row of pots and pans. Carefully, he turned on a burner on the gas stove, then adjusted the flame as low as possible, until it was barely visible.

“Give me two eggs.”

Someone handed them to him.


Holding the butter in his hand, Satrapoulos began his lecture.

“First of all, you must never use oil with eggs. Use a pat of butter.”

He dropped the butter into the skillet, then placed the skillet over the fire.

“When the fire is low,” he continued, “the butter doesn’t burn. It melts slowly, and retains the fresh taste of butter.”

Everyone watched fascinated.

“As soon as the butter has melted, remove the skillet from the fire. Then break the eggs into it. One, two. Now you add salt and pepper” – he glared at the chef – “not after the eggs are cooked, but before they are cooked. Then cover the skillet, and place it over a very low heat.”

He turned towards the chef. “And now, when I remove the eggs from the fire, the yolk will be firm and covered with a thin, translucent layer.”

He removed the skillet from the stove, lifted the lid, and thrust the skillet towards the chef.

“Smell!” he ordered.

The delicate and appetising aroma of fresh butter wafted through the galley.

“And that, gentlemen, is how one cooks eggs.”

– from The Greek by Pierre Rey 

Book opened on fly leaf and my mum's Fay Winkler's writing

I found this extract in our late parents’ book collection. In the flyleaf of a fiction paperback, titled The Greek, my mother had written: see p.38 to fry eggs.

I turned to page 38 and found the recipe, above. My mother took food seriously.

Fay Winkler dancing Greek dancing

Fay Winkler performing traditional Greek dance


Published in 1974, the book is about a Greek jet-setting millionaire. Fay loved the high life. She also loved Greece. She fell in love with Greece in the 1970s. She felt it was her spiritual home. She loved the people, their passion, the dance, the food. 

My mother Fay Winkler a few months before she died aged 93.5

Fay Winkler Nov 2016

My mum (above) died in January, aged 93. She was a glamorous, obsessive, elegant, cultured, opinionated live-wire until the end. 

A few months before Fay died, she was interviewed for a documentary film about love, titled All That Is directed by Wessie du Toit

Fay never saw the film. It was screened at the ICA earlier this month and will be on Channel 4 TV in a few months time.

My mother looking glam and full of joie-de-vivre

Fay Winkler circa 1970s

Fay used to cook me fried eggs for breakfast when I stayed with her. I was grateful to be mothered by my mother when I was a grandmother.

My mum would heat the olive oil really high, add the eggs, put a lid on and then turn off the flame. 

We are trying to remember if she used butter or olive oil and now I cannot ask her. 

I cook fried eggs in olive oil as I have done since the 1980s influenced by my late husband, Adrian Reid.

I love using this recipe from The Greek because a) It is in dialogue b) My mother made a note about it c) Butter tastes luxurious.

How do you fry your eggs?



11 responses to “Eggs fried gently in butter

  1. A lovely blog, beautifully composed. I am very very sure Fay fried eggs in butter. Lovely with buttered toast! The two photographs are poignant. Tempus fugit, indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I’d known your mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing E…your Mum sounds like a character I could relate to!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jody – your comment made me smiiiiiiile!


  5. I usually fry my eggs in olive oil, but when making myself an Uitsmijter (an open faced Dutch sandwich usually of ham and cheese on bread topped with egg) I will always fry the eggs in butter. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story with us Elisabeth.


  6. Hi I just wanted to tell you that I had spent the last hour searching online for a book called The Greek (which I had thought was by Mario Puzo, but wasn’t). It was in my parents bookshelf in the UK in the 70s when I was growing up and I read / flicked through bits of it, aged 13 or so … (the only bits i remember were 1. a sex scene between a greek soldier who had to lift his greek skirt and a woman who had to lower her trousers, while standing up against a tree ! and 2. how to fry eggs in butter with salt and pepper while they’re cooking and to put a lid on top (the antithesis of the way my greek cypriot grandmother cooked eggs in oil and spooned the oil over the top!). I remembered this intermittently my whole life, at one point frying eggs this way religiously … The book is long gone and today, aged 50, I had another go at searching online with no author’s name, convinced it must’ve been The Godfather or The Sicilian – finding them online and “command F” to find the word “eggs”. I found the correct book in the end and sure enough there was the familiar cover. My next mission was to see if I could read it online – no luck. And then I found this page and there it was written out just as I remembered. Thank you so much ! !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I might order it used online! I just love that someone else thought, yes, I need to make eggs like that and consciously marked the flyleaf ! xxx 🍳🍳

    Liked by 1 person

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