The once humble Scotch Egg has been thrust centre stage this week, and dropped sniggeringly into Parliamentary debate, as the Government has made a meal out of its status.

Surprisingly, the sausagemeat-coated ovicular lightbite has nothing to do with Scotland, despite in its purest form being deep fried. It may instead originate on the North Yorkshire coast.

The breadcrumb-shelled delicacy hit the headlines on Wednesday as the nation tried to digest whether it was a snack or a “substantial meal” which would enable Tier 2 pubs to reopen and serve it.

Environment minister George Eustice said it was substantial only for Michael Gove to disagree. "My own preference when it comes to a substantial meal might be more than just a Scotch Egg but that's because I'm a hearty trencherman,” he said on radio.

In his next TV interview minutes later, he squirmed and u-turned. “A Scotch Egg is a substantial meal,” he said, getting egg on his face and proving that the yolk was on him (feel free to add your own oeuf-ul egg-based gag here). “I myself would definitely scoff a couple of Scotch Eggs if I had the chance, but I do recognise it is a substantial meal.”

The world’s largest Scotch Egg, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records, is certainly substantial. It was made in a London hotel in 2008 and featured a 1.7kg ostrich egg wrapped in 4kg of sausagemeat, 940gr of haggis and 800gr of breadcrumbs, and took eight hours to cook.

There are lots of theories about the origins of the traditional hen’s Scotch Egg. Upmarket London retailers Fortnum and Mason once claimed they invented it in 1738 as a way of masking the socially inappropriate whiff of a boiled egg on a long carriage journey.

However, most people believe it had lower class origins, with cheap minced “forcemeat” – offal – around the egg and perhaps spiced with cloves to hide its dubious taste.

Apparently, the verb for chopping up meat was “to scotch” –Shakespeare has a phrase “scotch and notch” which is like our “slice and dice” – and so the dish got its name.

Or because it was fried or baked to give it that crisp and golden crunchiness, it was known as a “scorched egg”.

Then comes the Whitby theory, where William J Scott stood out among the harbourside cockle stalls by selling a hard boiled egg wrapped in fish paste and made transportable by its breadcrumb coating. The fish “Scottie egg” proved so popular that Mr Scott augmented his range by adding a sausagemeat wrapping.

Some London sources suggest that you can still find a proper fish Scottie eggs on the Yorkshire coast, but I’ve never spotted one. Last year, though, the Whitby Gazette published a recipe from the chef of the famed Magpie fish and chip restaurant for a Yorkshire Kipper Egg, which was an egg wrapped in kipper pate with a waft of Wensleydale cheese through it for pan-Yorkshire appeal.

In the 1990s, the Scotch Egg was an appalling refrigerated service station snack, but it has recently undergone a gourmet transformation. At pre-Covid Christmas food festivals, The Clucking Pig’s stall, with its artisan rare breed eggs made at Marske-by-the-Sea, was eagerly anticipated. Even Mr Gove would have to accept that its Full Monty – a goey egg wrapped in pork, black pudding, egg, tomato, bacon and mushrooms – or its Wild Game, of pheasant, pigeon and partridge, was an extremely substantial meal.