I’ve got an egg problem. We’re overrun with them, but that’s not the problem, as we have lots of egg-eating friends. The problem is that they’re bringing a very serious character flaw of mine out in the open for all to see.
Eggs don’t just sit on the counter, waiting patiently to be eaten poached, with whole-grain toast. They want to be combined with butter and cheese, sugar and cream. They want to be omelets, or custards, or soufflés. Most of all, though, eggs beg to be baked with. And I can’t have baked goods in the house.
I can’t have anything delicious and ready to eat in the house because I am ready to eat every last bite of it. Ice cream calls to me from the freezer. “Tamar!” says the Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, “I’m delicious, and here for the taking!” Chocolate truffles call from the Lindt box. Cashews call from the cupboard. And forget baked goods. If Kevin wants any of that leftover pecan pie, he has to tie me to the mast and stop up my ears before he goes to work in the morning.
Kevin doesn’t hear the siren song of baked goods. He’s perfectly capable of letting the cake, or the bread, or the cookies sit on the counter until he gets hungry. Then he eats one reasonable portion and puts the rest away. I don’t understand it.
“It never calls your name,” I say, bewildered.
“It never has the chance,” says Kevin.
Why do I have such trouble with this? I manage to be disciplined in other areas of my life. I exercise regularly, I’m diligent about my work, I resist a wide range of ethical temptations – only to be undone by a pumpkin bread.
That’s what it was this time. A pumpkin bread. I knew I shouldn’t have made it, but I had an open can of pumpkin puree and just enough white whole wheat flour. And eggs. Dozens and dozens of eggs.
It wasn’t even a rich, decadent pumpkin bread. It was an austere, healthful pumpkin bread. I made it that way in part because I figured I’d probably eat too much, and if it was an austere, healthful pumpkin bread the worst-case scenario wasn’t too bad. But I also figured that an austere, healthful pumpkin bread might not taste very good, and I might just be able to find it within myself to resist it.
No dice. By some fluke, this was the best austere, healthful pumpkin bread I’d ever made. I used two eggs, instead of the usual one, and it had a moist, eggy crumb. Although I made it with white whole wheat flour, it had none of that dense, grainy texture. And it was just sweet enough. (The recipe is here.)
After I’d eaten almost half – half! – I gave Kevin two big slices to see him through his train ride to New York. The rest, I gave to my friend Linda.
Then I called my mother to ask her why food has such a hold on me. “Well,” she said, trying to avoid the obvious answer, which is that I’m an incurable glutton. “You write about it for a living, so you think about it all the time.” Hah! If only.
“I write about it for a living because it has such a hold on me, not the other way ‘round,” I said.
“Maybe,” she admitted, and added, “I’m the same way.”
She is, although not quite as bad. But her house, like mine, is filled with ingredients. There are vegetables and fruits, grains and condiments, but not a snack to be had. If snacks are to be had, we have them, and next thing you know we don’t fit through the doorways.
Is it just us, or is this part of the human condition? I know people who bake (and write about baking) all the time, yet manage moderation. One doorway could fit three or four of Rose Levy Beranbaum, who’s perhaps the world’s leading expert on baked goods, and maybe a size six. This argues against the “human condition” theory. So what’s my problem?
Eggs. Eggs are my problem.