Hymn to the Egg
I never ate a lot of eggs; nor did I pay much attention to them when I did. But now that I am ancient, my daughter and those who see to my welfare have prescribed an egg for breakfast every other day more or less. Whether that will slow down the loss of body mass I don’t know, but I’m sure that eating an egg is A Good Thing (as in 1066 and All That) whether it does that or not.
My eggy experience of the last couple of months has led me to think about eggs, if not deeply or scientifically. Herewith a few thoughts on the subject. To begin with, a definition: “An oval or round object laid by a female bird, reptile, fish, or invertebrate, usually containing a developing embryo. The eggs of birds are enclosed in a chalky shell, while those of reptiles are in a leathery membrane.” That covers far more ground than the eggs I eat which are of the kind found in supermarkets under the rubric “Eggs,” and are oval, enclosed in a chalky shell,” and laid by chickens, reportedly under conditions analogous to Third World slums. (I fear, moreover, that eggs are not the only food we eat that has this kind of dubious history.)
The eggs I get are mostly brown and weigh about two ounces. I like them soft-boiled, if not too runny, with a little salt and accompanied by a piece of bread, buttered. That, together with some grapefruit juice and a largish cup of black coffee, makes for me a most adequate breakfast.
Adequate, certainly, given that an egg contains a remarkable array of proteins, vitamins, and trace metals, probably not found in any other natural product of its size. It also contains a goodly amount of cholesterol, which, luckily, is not a problem for me.
I say “luckily,” because I am particularly fond of the taste and texture of the yolk, where that cholesterol resides. More generally, I like the mild (or, fancier: subtle) tastes to be encountered in a boiled egg, brought out by that sprinkle of salt and contrasted with an analogously mild-tasting piece of buttered baguette. Unlike most of my fellow residents in Mexico—native or imported—I emphatically do not want these understated flavors doused in sauces that are strong-tasting, not to mention spicy.
If the breakfast I have described were a short piece of music, its tempo would vary just from andante to allegretto ma non troppo, its dynamics would go from pp to mf and while it would be written in a major key, it would resemble more the C-major of “J’ai perdu mon Eurydice” than the C-major of the Meistersinger overture. Not every meal has to be a feast.
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