The other day, I was doing a pronunciation exercise with one of my classes. As a lot of foreigners struggle with the various sounds in the English language, the kind folks at New English File have come up with a great, and supposedly foolproof, system. The idea is that the students will remember the phonetic symbols more easily through ‘sound pictures’ which show an example word for each sound. So there we were, working our way through some vowel sounds.


Students: Bike.

Great. Next.


Students: Ear.

Good stuff. Next.

Students: Uhhhhhh…

Me: Come on, what is it?

Janis: Uh, a cup?

Me: What??

Gunita: Uh, a glass?

Me: Are you mad? What do you put into it?

Gunta: Uh, wine?

In an effort to keep from tearing my own hair out, I started stabbing at the board with my marker, ending up with something vaguely resembling a triangular egg sitting in a Β warped egg cup. Triumphantly, I turned around and waited for the ‘aha’ moment from my students. Nothing.


Students: We don’t know the word.

Me: It’s an egg! An EGG! The egg goes in the egg cup!

Students: We don’t use egg cups in Latvia.

How could this be? What do Latvian people do? Chase the egg around the plate while thwacking it with a spoon whenever it rolls in the right direction? Was this some new form of madness?

The students explained to me (in a ‘humour the foolish Westerner’ sort of way) that Latvians like their eggs hard-boiled. This didn’t answer my questions. Just because it’s hard-boiled doesn’t mean it won’t submit to a pummelling from stainless steel. This however, is not the Latvian way. They pick the egg up in their hands, peel the shell off and eat it that way. Doesn’t it matter that the egg is very, very hot, I wondered? Literally boiling? Another ‘puny Westerner’ look.

Thinking that they might still be messing with me, I decided to ask another group the next morning. One student, Β (amazingly)Β called Janis, told me that his mother actually used to give him his egg in an egg cup with a funny face on it when he was a child. Thinking that the egg cup was merely for decoration, he’d take the egg out and eat it with one hand while playing games with the egg cup with the other. Sigh.

I feel that I have moved one step closer to the mystery of why Latvians always look so miserable though. If you burned the tops off your fingers every morning, wouldn’t you?

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
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45 Responses to Eggs-traordinary

  1. Anna says:

    Your students are weird πŸ™‚ I have about 3 kinds of sets of egg cups at home and I remember that one of the options for breakfast in childhood was egg – hard boiled, soft, scrambled and whatever about 10 options more πŸ™‚ Soft boiled was one of my favourite (in contrast to my sis) and I still have the nice comfy spoons and I still use them almost each morning πŸ™‚

  2. tjo says:

    You live and you learn — new horizons open when you start a discussion like this, quite amusing.

    Well, eating soft boiled eggs is easy — just dunk them in cold water after boiling and keep them there for a minute or so. Take them out, give a whack with a spoon (or hit it against any hard surface of your liking — the plate, the table, your forehead), peel off enough for a spoon to fit in and eat with a teaspoon — while holding the egg in your hand, of course. Season with salt or mayonnaise.

    How do you cut off the top an egg?? Isn’t it full of shell pieces afterwards?

  3. Pingback: A brush with a Latvian | Expat Eye on Latvia

  4. bevchen says:

    Found you via Lady of the Cakes.

    It would never have occurred to me that anyone would not use egg cups! How bizarre!!

    Germans don’t cut the top off their boiled eggs – they thwack the top with a spoon then peel until they’ve made a big enough gap to fit a spoon in. At least that’s how my boyfriend and his family do it.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Good old Lady of the Cakes – she’s like Nokia – connecting people πŸ˜‰ I still think the British and Irish way of doing it is the most civilised. All of this thwacking and peeling is positively barbarian!

  5. Bob Lewis. says:

    I haven’t seen any mention of soldiers with the egg! I asked my wife if she had soldiers with a boiled egg – and she started making remarks about sending for the men in little green jackets….!
    When I tried to explain to her what soldiers were, and the important part they play in eating a boiled egg, she went to pick up the phone to send for an ambulance to take me away!
    I did manage to stop her – but itΕ‘ all rather strange, isn’t it??

  6. MΕ«dzis says:

    As a Latvian I can say that at least in my family the egg-eating process looks pretty much like the one foolproof described earlier – after the egg has been boiled, we put it in cold water and leave it there for a minute or two so that it would cool off, and then just peel it. We do have few egg cups lying around the house, but they are never actually used.

  7. indeedgirl says:

    Actally I am latvian and I don’t use egg cup. Never! I think it is unnecessary, cause after boiling it, you put it in cold water and then you eat it. I don’t remember when I ate whole egg what was hot. No way! I need it cold, for example in Easter we eat only cold eggs. And then I put it on the plate and eat with salt or mayonnaise and hey, actually, I use fork and knofe. πŸ˜€ Maybe it sound wierd, but yeh, it’s how I used to do. Or of course, easiest way is to cut it in slicies and to put it on the bread. πŸ™‚
    Thank you for this article, I laught so much!:)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha, glad to hear that! Egg with a knife and fork, eh? This is a new one for me! A cold egg for breakfast in winter would be my worst nightmare πŸ™‚ Ka murgs!

  8. Good luck with this newly found egg-cup project πŸ™‚ Speaking of my fellow Lithuanians, I’d say most might know what egg-cups are for, but they are mostly used when giving an egg to a kid as far as I know. Well, at least I only used these cups when I was a kid – a colorful cup added much fun to the whole eating process. Later, when eating came more natural without some ‘fancy stuff’ to keep me on eating, I’d dropped it and started to eat eggs ‘normally’ – with hands πŸ˜€

  9. Well, you learn something new every day. I presumed that everyone used egg cups!!

  10. Michelle JR says:

    I’m with you – how can these people not use egg cups! Does that mean that they have never had a soft boiled egg? The World just grows more confusing to me everyday…

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hadn’t considered the soft-boiled egg dilemma! That could get very messy, very quickly! Maybe our Latvian readers can help us out here! πŸ˜‰

  11. Lasma Kokina says:

    Okay, I don’t use egg cups either (although I have no trouble telling what they are), but I definitely never hold eggs in my hands.That’s news to me as well. I usually put them on a small plate.

    • The whole egg-cup implies that one should eat egg, firmly sitting in his cup, with a small spoon, that is no touching with hands. I also put my eggs ona plate, but when it comes to actual eating, it’s best to pick it up with hand. Though I’ve never tried doing it with a fork or something πŸ˜‰

    • Expat Eye says:

      How do you get it from the plate to your mouth??

      • Lasma Kokina says:

        Uh, I’m a wee bit late with my reply, but I normally use a teaspoon or any other small spoon. A small fork is fine as well, I guess. I think that the main reason why I don’t like egg cups is because I tend to either eat eggs it with mayo dressing or with vegetables.
        By the way, I also got an egg-surprise here in the UK. I was schocked to discover that people never put eggs in the fridge, ever.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha, really? I always keep mine in the fridge! Egg surprises all round πŸ˜‰

  12. foolproof says:

    Egg is not hot if you put it into cold water after boiling. It cools off and the shell comes off easily.
    In childhood my family used to put eggs in egg cups but I found it pretty inconvenient as you have to scrape the egg (white) out off the shell with a spoon. Also the fact that after eating an egg you have to wash 2 items – an eggcup and a spoon – somehow seems to me like wasting of time and resources. especially if eggs are not the most common food for breakfast anyway. Sandwiches with eggs, salads or soups with eggs, scrambled eggs, but a plain egg for breakfast? – then you really have to love it..

    • Expat Eye says:

      Boiled egg and toast! And of course, a cup of tea! Breakfast of champions. Only takes about a minute to wash up! Are you Latvian? I’d never heard of anyone having sandwiches for breakfast before I moved here πŸ˜‰ Or soup for that matter!

  13. Dee Bee says:

    Checking in for California – we don’t use egg cups there either! I’ve been meaning to get one now that I’m in the UK, though I feel like my hands are far more efficient ;D

  14. pollyheath says:

    Haha, yeah we definitely don’t use these in the States. The first time I was looking through NEF I was definitely stumped as to what that could be. So clearly Americans also have some fundamental deficiency/hardcore egg-eating skillz.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Funny the things that are so normal in some places are so weird in others! Seemingly they don’t use them in Russia either so you’re in good company πŸ˜‰

  15. We don’t use egg cups in the states (atleast no one I’ve met). But I’m hungry for deviled eggs.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Interesting! My Canadian friend says they use them there and she has seen and used them in the States as well. Maybe it varies from state to state? Some states are egg cup states and some not?? πŸ˜‰

      • That’s probably it! I mean, I had seen pictures of them, but didn’t know if they even had a name. I’ll claim the Southern states and J (when I woke him up in the middle of the night to ask him this ever-urgent question, because obviously!) claims Seattle didn’t use them (so maybe it’s not valid?).

      • Expat Eye says:

        I could be responsible for the first ever ‘egg cup’ related divorce!! ‘I’d seen pictures of them…’ πŸ™‚ So funny!

  16. This is the first laugh I’ve had today since finding a cockroach in my bed. Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ugh, horrible things! Glad I cheered you up! Do Spanish people use egg cups? This has really got me thinking πŸ˜‰

      • I’m going to find out. They are not breakfast eaters, so they may not have them. What they do have, though, is special serving plates with egg-shaped indentations to hold any number of cut-in-half hard boiled eggs with fancy dressings on them.
        BTW, I won the re-match…roach 0, moi 1.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Good for you! Did you nuke him? Egg cups sound so ordinary in comparison to those plates! Must get me some of those πŸ˜‰ To go with my one other plate…

      • Let’s just say the critter met a dismal end…
        The drawback of these egg plates is that cake doesn’t sit on them very comfortably at all!
        Maybe we should run a series – kitchen implements/crockery that is only found in certain countries, or not found at all. Hmmmm….

      • Expat Eye says:

        Very few things are found in my kitchen but I don’t think that’s an Irish thing. πŸ˜‰ Have to get into a Latvian kitchen and have a poke around! 8 different kinds of flour is standard anyway!

      • What a fun project… must take a pic of those egg plates next time I see one. Paella pans are a bit too obvious, maybe. Can’t wait to see what you come up with πŸ™‚

      • Expat Eye says:

        Have to find a Latvian who’ll let me into their kitchen first. And more importantly, let me out again! πŸ˜‰

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