Chefs: Hold the egg, please

Los Angeles Times - - FOOD & DINING - By Jonathan Gold­

Not that any­one’s count­ing, but we may be in our sixth or sev­enth year of the Egg on Ev­ery­thing fad in Los An­ge­les restau­rants, and, un­like kale, ba­con or hamachi crudo, it shows no signs of go­ing away — not with the lines at Egg Slut ap­proach­ing the length of a city block at the Grand Cen­tral Mar­ket on a Sun­day morn­ing. A well-poached egg, made ridicu­lously easy by even the most rudi­men­tary im­mer­sion cir­cu­la­tor, is by far the cheap­est luxury a chef can be­stow upon his or her cus­tomers. It is the in­gre­di­ent that diner cooks and Miche­lin-starred chefs share. A yolk, pretty and bright, looks good on the plate.

So Egg Slut I ac­tu­ally un­der­stand. Peo­ple like eggs, and it is an egg-themed restau­rant. But there are fewer com­pelling rea­sons for what seem like su­per­flu­ous eggs gar­nish­ing fried meats, grain bowls and com­posed sal­ads; in­no­cent plates of veg­eta­bles; any­thing in which the in­gre­di­ents are chopped up and formed into a patty; chilled broths; or bowls of noodles in­spired by cul­tures that tra­di­tion­ally do not in­clude eggs in said noodles. (Ra­men, which of­ten in­cludes a soft-boiled on­sen egg, and the cold Korean noo­dle called naengmyon have grand­fa­ther-clause ex­emp­tions.)

Sauce gribiche , made with minced pickles and hard-boiled eggs, does not, in fact, go with ev­ery­thing. Dev­iled-egg sauce has no rea­son to ex­ist. A prop­erly made croque mon­sieur is nearly al­ways bet­ter than its egg-bear­ing spouse, the croque madame. It should not be nec­es­sary to mem­o­rize the phrase “sin huevos” in a dozen lan­guages. If you rou­tinely plonk fried eggs on in­no­cent cheese­burg­ers, you had bet­ter be Aus­tralian.

I un­der­stand that I can some­times sound like a crank on the sub­ject of Eggs on Ev­ery­thing — a crank­i­ness that has been nur­tured by nearly a decade of po­litely nudg­ing the gooey, sul­furous al­leged choles­terol bombs to one side. And I apol­o­gize. Af­ter one small-plates meal when 11 out of 12 of the dishes on the ta­ble were served un­der eggs, I asked the chef why.

“It’s ovaries throw­ing down,” she said. Un­der­stood! But at home, an egg is a meal. In a restau­rant, an egg is of­ten closer to a cheat, less a thing in it­self than an ana­log to the gob of brown gravy dis­guis­ing the fla­vor of a ques­tion­able steak or the ran­dom squirt of Sriracha in an oth­er­wise bland salad dress­ing. It should be pos­si­ble to eat a spear of as­para­gus with­out dis­lodg­ing it from a but­ter-crumb-fried dun­geon or to get at a com­po­si­tion of sea urchin and squid with­out care­fully ex­tract­ing it from a sar­coph­a­gus of 63-de­gree yolk.

The era of Egg on Ev­ery­thing is not all it’s been cracked up to be.

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