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Saturday, February 02, 2013

The breakfast roundtable

By Dick Hirsch
This was at a breakfast meeting of the committee, held in a private alcove at a suburban chain restaurant well-known for its breakfast offerings. There are nine persons at the rectangular table, all upscale professionals. As we join the group the discussion has been temporarily halted to enable the waitress to take the orders. She is well-organized, proceeding down one side and up the other to facilitate the later service.

Attendee number one, seated near the entry door, orders the Spanish omelet with French fries and coffee. That evolved as a trend-setting decision. It was promptly duplicated by attendee number two, seated to his immediate right. As we will later observe, attendee number eight, seated across the table, thought that would be an appropriate way to start the day. He didn’t speak for fear of confusing the waitress, but when his turn came, he placed the same order.

Omelets prepared there tend to be large. They are made with three eggs, plus whatever other additions the diner might which to add. When they are delivered, steaming and swollen with broccoli, peppers or mushrooms, they are very imposing. Of all the omelets, the ones with cheese are probably most popular, available with cheddar, swiss or feta.
Attendees number five and seven ordered the cheese.

That left two orders of two fried eggs, sunny side up---attendees three and nine---and one order of two scrambled for number four. We have skipped over number six who had made a significant departure from the norm. He ordered an egg white omelet.

Obviously he wanted nothing to do with the yolk of a normal large chicken egg each of which contains 186 milligrams of cholesterol. He was asserting his position as a consumer who is a member of the group that has read the various stories published over the decades that high cholesterol might contribute to clogged arteries and the possibility of coronary disease.

The other eight were expressing a degree of independence. They were surely well aware of the various anti-egg warnings, but they apparently sided with the nutritionists and other medical professionals who insist eggs are a healthy food that has gotten an undeserved bad reputation.
That difference of opinion has been publicized for years, with various scientists choosing sides and debating the risks versus the benefits of the egg. Those who disparage the egg stress the evidence that links high cholesterol levels with heart disease. They advise complete abstention, or at least moderation. The scientific director of a recently announced study in Canada claimed that an extra large egg contains 237 milligrams of cholesterol, more than a burger with three slices of  cheese and four strips of bacon. 

Meanwhile, the American Egg Board, the industry group that has been leading a valiant defense for years, says its research has shown that eggs can be included in a healthy diet without increasing the risk of heart disease.

“Eggs can be part of healthy diet for healthy people,” is the familiar refrain of omelet eaters.

That is obviously the contention of those at that breakfast meeting. I have attended many meetings with that group and always been intrigued with their choices. I don’t usually pay close attention to what others are ordering, but their loyalty to the embattled egg seemed notable.

As an advocate of full disclosure, I have an admission that must be made: I was attendee number six, the contrarian, the person who ordered the egg white omelet. I have ordered many egg white omelets over the years and have never enjoyed one of them. There are many terms suitable for use in describing them, starting with bland, pallid and insipid. Yet they are  available on many menus and are being ordered by those who believe the egg white omelet will enhance their health and lengthen their lives. I was guilty of adopting that approach.

But I changed on that particular day, changed as I looked at all my colleagues, delighted with their servings of eggs, while I was dousing my egg white omelet with ketchup in the vain hope of infusing it with some flavor. It was a hopeless effort and it motivated me to change. I have quit the group that abstains and joined the other team. No, I won’t be aggressive, with a daily ration. Moderation will be my strategy. Have you ever considered how attractive it is to have a pair of poached eggs staring up at you from a bed of rye bread? 


At 9:14 AM, Blogger David said...

Aha, which explains your golden yellow cheesy omelet you enjoyed this morning, best, david


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