‘Probably the wisest way to treat an egg is not to cook it at all.’

So said MFK Fisher, who served her children an egg yolk spread on dark bread, sprinkled with brown sugar, as “a potent snack.”

Anathema to the New York City Health Department, which the NYT reports cited a restaurant, the Pegu Club, for serving a marvelous-sounding concoction—of Earl Grey tea-infused gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice—without warning of the evil raw egg in it. The menu notes the health warning, but the customer needed no menu to order.

Should we substitute pasteurized eggs, as the health inspector suggested? Inspectors’ palates and priorities may not be entirely trustworthy. A second opinion: “Pasteurized eggs impart this really funky wet-diaper nose,” said Audrey Saunders, Pegu Club owner and beverage director.

I embrace wholeheartedly an inconsistent approach to the safety of raw eggs, not unlike my take on food that has fallen to the floor. The principles are somewhat mysterious to me, even if the safety of a given item is immediately obvious. If the egg is in cake or cookie batter, it is safe, perhaps protected by the butter. Eggnog is no risk—except watch out for the brandy, which goes down faster than you’d think. I theorize that the danger I sense is bound with the clarity of the unbeaten white—but then I cannot explain why in a piece of sushi, nestled with equally raw companions of monkfish liver and fish eggs, wrapped in a miniature but sure fortress of nori, a quail egg is perfectly safe. Alone in a dish, the egg, beaten or not, is a Salmonella-bearing hazard. But after the egg is cooked, the fork used to stir the raw eggs is as good as any other to lift the food to my mouth.

I am less sure about a Prairie Oyster, once a surefire Hangover Helper, as Fisher reports in her 1990 annotations to her own 1937 How to Cook a Wolf … unless the idea is that once you get that down, you can do anything.

The combination of one fresh raw unbeaten egg, one douse of Worcestershire sauce, one souse of whiskey or brandy, and one optional dibble of Tabasco-or-Evangeline-or-salsa-piquante (in that order of hell-fire progression); it represents to many a jaded rounder the next morning’s Last Resort. Not so to me. I often make one for myself before I must do something I dislike: go to the dentist, say. . . . I have been madly in love with mine, in a mild way, since I was nineteen, but I still need a Prairie Oyster to be able to stand going into his office.


4 responses to “‘Probably the wisest way to treat an egg is not to cook it at all.’

  1. I’ve been to that bar! They make divine drinks. So sad that they 86ed the fancy tea concoction.

    This will help your floor food decision making:

    I always thought Prairie Oysters were buffalo testicles.

    • I thought those were Mountain Oysters. Prairie Oysters really should be … prairie dog oysters, don’t you think?

      Chart: So useful. I’m going to post it on my refrigerator.

      Low enough down, of course, that the cats can follow it. I’m pretty sure Bruiser would say “Yes” to “Are you a puma?”

  2. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Focus_On_Shell_Eggs/index.asp

    I got salmonellosis from my neighbor’s eggs. We thought they were be safe to make eggnog with. Boy, was I wrong.

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