THE delight on the aides’ faces has turned to shock as they see the fat tears roll silently down my cheeks. They have brought me my heart’s desire and this is not the reaction they expected.

No wonder...I’m crying over two bloody boiled eggs tucked into polystyrene cups to keep hot, a pierced circle denoting where to de-cap.

The insides are soft and rich yellow – the whites firm and tempting.

'It’s wrong, Madame Cook?’ says one actually wringing her hands. The other stays silent, misery on her face.

‘They’re beautiful,’ I sniffle. ‘Perfect. I’m just so happy.’

I cry easily these days. Emotions brim over and tears fall about the most ridiculous things. I never cried before. Certainly, never over buggery boiled eggs.

I have been wanting one for months – comforting, light, nursery food; perfect for this strange time in my life.

I’ve said before, the kitchen at this SSR Valence d’Agen in Tarn et Garonne is restaurant standard – four-course meals, wine, fine cheese, exquisite patisserie.

It’s all too much for me whose eating habits are, as we know, disinterestedly deranged. I cracked in the summer when in a canicule with 38 degrees they served soup and pot au feu.

‘What is wrong with you people and your food obsession? All I want is a tomato, a piece of cooked ham, maybe avocado and, and, an egg. And no bloody bread.’

No way would they inflict such poverty provisions on me and on and on came the mountains of food.

Anyway, we continued our discussion on the boiled eggs. They had arrived with a plate piled high with cold toast-style bread, not toast; soup of course, blanquette de veau and jasmine rice; camembert; chocolate cream.

Gently I explained the eggs themselves were the meal and just perfect flying solo. I didn’t bother explaining the toast soldiers...far, far too complex.

So for the evening meal only? I can never face another daily four courser. Nothing further.

The egg now arrives nightly but never alone. There is soup, of course, four to six slices of bread, two deserts and possibly more cheese. That’s them cutting down.

Boiled eggs are my Proustian Madeleine moment and lead me to a flagstone kitchen in an Irish farmhouse. Although he lived in Kilkenny City my grandfather kept a house and a farm run in the country by a couple, Lal and Pat.

In the summers that never ended my three/four-year-old self would run free in their care; hefted on to the broad back of a working giant pulling a plough; hiding from the turkey which hated me and ambushed me to reach my chubby little legs. No nanny to curtail my ramblings.

I slept in the old part under mountainous quilts in a feathered bower beneath a thatched roof from which spiders occasionally plopped to join me on the pillows. The smell and heat of turf lulled me to sleep.

Or outside I hid in haystacks tumbling over and over with my grandfather’s precious gundogs, their ear canker as pungent to me now as it was then. I played among a graveyard where the pets of the past were given proud recognition with small headstones listing their noble qualities of loyalty, courage, steadfastness.

My grandfather’s favourite hunter was buried deep under the stoned entrance to the main house and he saluted him with loving memory every day when there.

Here, I learned to ride fast and furiously, bare backed on any beast I could round up and clamber up. And all the days were long and hot and I revelled in the smells of horse, dog and dung on my sweaty jodhpurs which still had wings.

Hunger drove me in and there at 4pm were my brown, speckled eggs plucked not long from the hen. The top sliced, the yolk was of a richness not seen since, oozing up the shell as the spoon entered, swiped up by my greedy finger.

A still warm soda bread, cross in its centre, was cut by Lal’s capable hands and its country Irish smell escaped. A huge slab of butter padded into a brick shape with fine lines running all around was as yellow as the still fiery sun calling me back out.

I’d been allowed several stiff churns of the huge wooden vat when Pat had agitated the growing butter earlier.

Tea – milk for me, salty and cold room tepid – was all else that was needed for this truly heavenly feast for a child of the fields.

There was nothing refined about it yet it was sheer wholesome goodness.

Sometimes Pat slid a slice of bacon – salty, lip burning hot, curling at the edges in crisped, wondrous flavour.

‘Which pig was it, Pat?’ I’d ask with the unsentimental curiosity of a country child, nodding sagely at the answer and we’d give thanks to it and God for its sacrifice.

And then I was off, sated, happy and back to the dogs and the horses to continue the never-ending day until whistled in.

Such memories. No wonder I cried over the bloody boiled eggs.