Don’t Try to Improve on Perfection.
(The following is a guest column submitted by someone who will only allow himself to be identified as Grouchy Geezer.)
What possesses a chef to tamper with a perfect breakfast dish like the classic Eggs Benedict?
Prepared lovingly and carefully, it’s an English muffin, split and toasted, then topped with a slice of Canadian bacon or several thin slices of ham. Next perfectly poached eggs– extra large eggs, please, to keep all the elements of this perfect breakfast in the right visual proportion. The two eggs are then covered with a rich, delicately-flavored Hollandaise sauce, which is mostly egg yolks–beaten, thinned a bit with melted butter, and flavored with salt, a touch of cayenne pepper and a few drops of lemon juice.
Why do chefs think they can improve on that? The restaurant at the Palmer House in Chicago substituted a thick slab of bread pudding of the English muffin. Imagine that all you want . . . but don’t taste it! Apparently virtually everyone hated it, because as of a few weeks ago, the “Benny” was still on the menu, but there was no mention of the bread pudding.
The inspiration for this post was the Eggs Benedict served at the Andaluca restaurant in Seattle’s Mayflower Park Hotel. It features the English muffin, but the poached eggs were served on several thin slices of a spicy prosciutto ham and a slice of tomato. That same spice had been liberally added to the Hollandaise sauce which, of course, meant that it was no longer Hollandaise Sauce. Furthermore, and by extension, all that spice meant that the concoction itself could no longer be legitimately cole an Eggs Benedict!
I ran across another egregious example of this unfortunate trend yesterday: a Waldorf Salad which included the following ingredients: apples, grapes, cashews, cranberries, chicken, lettuce and–Hold on!–balsamic vinaigrette. That may very well be quite a nice salad, but it damn well is not a Waldorf Salad, the ingredients for which are chopped apples and celery with walnuts. Possible additions: raisens or grapes and maybe a chicken breast cut into delicate cubes. But the dressing is—no, the dressing must be— mayonnaise. Balsamic vinegar? Never!