In a much-loved episode of Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton visits a diner and gets completely bamboozled by the colorful and confusing line cook lingo. I think of this scene almost every time I make fried eggs — but I still can't keep straight which is which!
For my own benefit as much as yours, here is what makes an egg over easy or sunny-side up.
What Are Over-Easy Eggs?
An egg cooked "over easy" means that it gets fried on both sides, but it's not cooked for very long on the second side, so the yolk doesn't get cooked through and stays runny. To make one, you cook the raw egg just until the whites are set on the bottom, then you quickly flip it over to cook the other side. "Over" refers to flipping the egg, and "easy" refers to the doneness of the yolk. You can also cook eggs "over medium" and "over hard," depending on how cooked you prefer the yolk.
Related: How To Fry an Egg
What Are Sunny-Side-Up Eggs?
An egg cooked "sunny-side up" means that it is fried just on one side and never flipped. The yolk is still completely liquid and the whites on the surface are barely set. You can cover the pan briefly to make sure the whites are cooked or baste them with butter. I have always assumed that the name refers to the way this egg looks like the morning sun.