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frisee of failure

About nine months ago, Alex and I stopped for some late afternoon drinks at Balthazaar (Don’t we sound posh and despicable? Gah.) and ended up ordering some grub from their bar menu – him, oysters, and me, frisee au lardons. Despite many years of French class, I hadn’t considered that that “lardons” were bacon, I just saw that it was a poached egg on a salad and decided it must be yummy.

… It was SO yummy, ESPECIALLY the bacon. I ate every bit. I gushed. I melted. I had a new favorite dish. And I was, incidentally, and despite fifteen years of vigilant adherence, no longer a vegetarian. I couldn’t be. BACON. I’m sure you understand.

Flash forward to this afternoon – I saw a recipe for a Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs on Epicurious.com and immediately knew it was my time, my moment to try my hand at it. Make it my own …Essentially, to show off.

But the eggs wouldn’t participate. I read the directions twelve times! Barely simmering water, two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar, break the egg first into a teacup, slide it gently into the water, and pull the whites together with a slotted spoon. I followed them – with vigor! – but all I got was egg drop soup. Three times. And then we ran out of eggs.

Frustrated, and as always, completely unable to handle my own imperfections, I settled in with my mother’s aged copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking, only to learn that it is not me, but my imbecile American eggs at fault. Poaching an egg is pointless unless the “yolk stands high,” “white clings to it in cohesive mass,” and essentially, the egg fell from the chicken’s arse just minutes prior. What, I didn’t know that? Troglodyte!

You know, THIS is why Americans have such problems with the French…

I sat back, somewhat consoled. My brown, free-range, and organic eggs were simply not good enough, and there was nothing I could do about it, shy of flying some fresh ouefs back from Paris with us, something I’m sure will be looked favorably upon by customs agents as long as my shoes have been removed… Or I could, you know, check the expiration date of my eggs beforehand.

But then what would I blame the French for?

comments (19)

Why most American restaurants resort to poaching forms of one kind or another. They're not a sin. At least I don't think they are...

1 | Miss Kat | November 30, 2004 12:03 AM

in india, eggs are so fresh, sometimes there's a feature or a shmear of henbloof, often mud dust.
it used to gross me out. but after the american egg experience, i feel differently.
but then, perhaps the existence of egg-factories which churn out eggs which don't always behave like 'real'eggs is a small price to pay for a wealthy, well-fed middle class.

2 | Shareen | November 30, 2004 03:49 AM

wait, what? I'm confused. I thought I had poached eggs many times, the ghetto way - dropping them right into boiling water (no vinegar). they always held together. do I not know what a poached egg is or something?

3 | koppar | November 30, 2004 08:58 AM

you said eggs. hehe

4 | michael | November 30, 2004 10:05 AM

deb, i've made poached eggs before both with a poacher and 'au naturel'.. it's finicky because sometimes it's the egg, sometimes it's the mineral content of the water, sometimes it's the gods conspiring against you no matter what.. i think though that there are little dishes you can buy (made of metal) in which you immerse the egg into the lightly boiling water and when it gets a bit tougher, you gently slide the egg out. try that... and good luck attaing the frisee perfection!

5 | writersbloc gal | November 30, 2004 11:39 AM

Man, I hear you. Mmm, BACON.

6 | Em | November 30, 2004 12:48 PM

okay. so i was a vegetarian for years, vegan for a few years after that, and then one day, at my favorite ceviche restaurant, and after about 3 mojitos they brought me an almond stuffed date wrapped in bacon and i ate it with curiosity and apprehension. i'll eat it i love dates very much and almonds are so good for you. so now i am a vegetarian who eats sushi, ceviche and bacon. or in other words, i'm a picky eater.
bacon makes complete sense, at least i doubt you and i are the only two bacon loving recovering vegetarians.
also, i don't know whats happening with the whole weight watchers thing but i have found the most curious website called "calorie king" where you can obsess in microscopic detail over exactly what you are puting in your body. who would have guessed.

7 | karen | November 30, 2004 04:09 PM

See? Anything wrapped in bacon = GOOD. Funny thing is, I haven't gotten much beyond the bacon in nine months. No seafood (though lots of "See? Food!"), no steak (shame on me, I know), and only tad bits of highly-processed turkey and chicken (I believed I actually proclaimed at Thanksgiving "I don't like this. It tastes too turkey-ish!"). But lots and lots of bacon.

Btw, Alex's One Great Dream is to see me eat a bacon veggie burger. With cheese. If it happens, I promise to post pictures.

8 | deb | November 30, 2004 04:19 PM

I use a metal measuring cup. You know the little individual ones not the big glass ones. Or a shot glass might work. I've only done it a few times. Good luck.

9 | jenni | November 30, 2004 04:32 PM

sorry to just add to the list of egg-poaching, but i like to make salmon eggs benedict for myself and others, and have found my favorite way of poaching eggs is to use the oversized foil cupcake (!) liners... you can usually fit 6 of them in the pan - just spray the liners with just a bit of olive oil before putting the egg in (one per liner) - they come out the perfect size and shape, and you can watch them cook easily. yumm!

10 | Devlyn | November 30, 2004 06:13 PM

i remember the look on the guy's face at crif dogs when i ordered a tofu dog wrapped in bacon. i trust meat that's all in one piece; start grinding it up and who knows what's going on there. perfect sense, right? right?

11 | ;o | November 30, 2004 07:22 PM

just microwave it dude

12 | jocelyn | November 30, 2004 08:45 PM

farmers markets are a great source for fresh eggs. not only do they poach easily, the taste will blow you away. you'll be ruined for even the most organic and free range store eggs. and the yolks are such a pretty, intense yellow.

no, I don't work for the egg board.

13 | Theresa | December 1, 2004 12:14 AM

10 year veggie here. can't live without bacon. is it really even meat?

14 | nicole | December 1, 2004 12:47 AM

What it sounds like you're describing is a Salade Lyonnaise. Do some Googling for that term and you may find some alternate recipes. As you discovered, when made properly such a salad is to die for. Theresa is right about the eggs, though. Search out a farmer's market if you can.

15 | Nigel M. | December 1, 2004 11:26 AM

Ooh, don't try the shot glass poacher. I'm embarrassed to say I tried that one out. Let's just say I was hungry and poor enough to debate whether I could get a little broken glass down without injuring myself.

16 | koppar | December 1, 2004 12:47 PM

i worked in a restaurant in seattle that specialized in eggs benedict-- and the best part was the perfectly round, golf ball-shaped eggs that we topped the muffin with. this was accomplished with a huge pot of boiling water, more than a dollop of white vinegar and regular old eggs cracked and dropped directly into the pot. my guess is you need more vinegar in the water, which makes the huevos float a bit more-- the trick after is to then rinse the eggs slightly in warm water to get rid of the vinegar aftertaste. good luck!

17 | logan | December 1, 2004 06:54 PM

Tip for poaching eggs: Swirl the water first to create a sort of whirlpool, this will keep the egg in the center long enough to solidify, and I've never had a problem with the yolk sticking out (maybe the yolk is drawn to the center of the swirling water because it is denser??) it works great :)

18 | Fake Robot Boy | December 3, 2004 03:55 PM

Dude, you should try out the seafood. I was a veg for five years and I'm not the biggest becon fan now, but I could totally eat my own weight in sushi. Mmmm.

19 | jennn | December 5, 2004 02:49 PM

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