I think something fowl is going on. What is with this latest egg obsession? Runny eggs on burgers and in Pho…among other things…egg whites in/on perfectly good cocktails. I’m not a fan. I enjoy the unfertilized ovum of chickens. I like them scrambled, fried, boiled. In all cases, I like the eggs fully cooked. I like eggs cooked well. I realize this is subjective. But subjectivity is the basis for most blogs. I never claimed to be a food journalist, after all.
Humans have eaten eggs for thousands of years. Not just bird eggs. Reptile eggs, fish eggs, even some eggs of mammals, turn up on menus and plates. The most common eggs eaten by people are chicken eggs. They are full of protein and can be prepared so many ways and in so many dishes, sweet, savory and everything in between.
Generally, I am not the kind of person to turn down an edible purely because I don’t think I’ll like it. (After all, I’m not four years old.) I’ll try just about anything once. Ok…sometimes twice or more if I forget I didn’t like it or if I am trying to convince myself that I should like it because so many other people do. I’ve applied this tactic to beets (still hate them), black licorice (still a nope), oysters (mind changed, I like them now…in the right circumstances), fennel (happy surprise, I really like it roasted, hate it raw)…so I’m open and willing to give things another try. This is not the case with eggs.
I watch A LOT of food television. PBS, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, BBC…if there is a food/cooking show on TV, radio, podcast, I’m all in. Very few don’t pique my interest. Some shows have an entertainment factor, like, Iron Chef or Chopped. Others are informational (Parts Unknown, Bizarre Foods). Still others are a combination (Good Eats, for example.) In so many of these shows, I hear people get full of affection for a runny egg (an egg with a very soft, barely cooked yolk) also known as a “dippy egg” in some parts, poached eggs or soft boiled eggs. *You should know that I got a little queasy just typing that last sentence. Seriously. Sigh…ok. I just don’t get it. And maybe it is the idea of what it will taste like or feel like more than the reality. I’m not sure. In another blog post I speak about my love of sauces. As I understand the egg’s description, the runny yolk becomes some version of a delicious sauce when it spills over food or is a dip for toast. Again, I don’t get it.
I’ve talked about my runny egg issue with others. I find there to be two camps: the “OMG you don’t know what you’re missing” folks; and the “Ewwww, I’m right there with you…that is some nasty mess” folks. I used to think it was cultural. Then I was dismayed by finding people I expected to be in Camp Yum in Camp Yuk and vice versa. Such is life. You can’t judge an egg by its shell. So others are of no help. In the case of the runny egg it seems to be, like most tastes, very individual.
Are we born this way? Maybe. My eight year old is offended by the sight on a runny egg on a burger “Why ruin a perfectly good burger?” but this little human has limited experience with food, so…. I was raised by people who kill dead proteins another time, just to be safe. So there was no chance I’d become the kind of person who enjoyed under cooked foods. I have never had or been seated next to anyone who has eaten a poached egg (at least they didn’t eat one in my presence). To date I am still given weird looks for wanting a med-rare steak or burger at the cookout. When hosting, I have to be sure that I prepare meats with a gradation of temperatures so all the meat eaters can be happy. Even delicate fish like salmon, will get side-eye if Auntie doesn’t think I’ve cooked it “long enough”. I’ve even had to send salmon back at restaurants because they over cooked it. So, I’m not a well-done-or-none eater. I feel like all foods have their optimal temperature of done. Eggs are known to be more easily digested when cooked. With me, the eggs must be firm throughout. (Am I making this clear?)
And don’t get me started on Balut eggs. Look it up. I can’t say more or I will actually be sick and I’d like to finish this piece (or it will languish in “drafts” like so many others).
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve eaten raw and under-cooked eggs. I know…stay with me. These specimen have been cleverly disguised. As long as I can’t see or taste the offending egg, then I’m fine (mostly…I have to not think about it too). Product #1: Eggnog. I absolutely LOVE the stuff. It is holiday magic. Creamy, boozy, holiday dessert in a glass. I also enjoy it without the booze. I enjoy it from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany. If I can store some, I may be able to stretch the season, but I rarely do this as it takes away from the magic of the holiday season. (Because otherwise, I’d make it year round.) Product #2: French Silk Pie. A rare treat and it doesn’t matter to me that I could make it with pasteurized eggs (true in almost any recipe that calls for raw eggs and is fact recommended)…because I like following traditional, classic recipes to the letter). Besides, chocolate, cream and sugar…if raw eggs gild this lily, bring it. Product #3: Pasta carbonara. This one just skirts the edge for me. The egg is not cooked. In the dish it does create a type of sauce for the pasta. But again, the yolk is cleverly disguised by the flavors of onion, bacon, garlic, cheese. I was plenty leery when I made this for the first time, but was won over after the first bite. I don’t know why I can’t have the same reaction so soft cooked eggs generally.
It also doesn’t help to see this on every recipe or menu with eggs: “Note: Raw eggs should not be used in food, consumed or prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, or anyone whose health is compromised.” See, this statement basically says “no one should eat raw eggs”, because how are we to know when our “health is compromised” until it is actually compromised? Many of us are walking around “compromised” and don’t even know it. The primary risk being avoided here is salmonellosis. (An infection caused by the salmonella bacteria.) Is consuming raw egges high risk or low risk? Depends on the individual. Eating, generally is risky. After all, one could choke on a pretzel. Some hazards are happenstance. Some can be avoided. Some are worth taking. For me, I’ll pass on the under-cooked fowl eggs.
One last note just to add to my quirkiness: I also don’t like over-cooked or “hard” eggs. I’m Goldilocks when it comes to eggs, I guess.