By MARK BITTMAN
I write this after having eaten six and a half eggs in the last 24 hours. Breakfast yesterday: Salad with two fried eggs. Lunch: Many things, including an egg-enriched corn bread (that’s the half-egg). Dinner: Pasta carbonara. And breakfast today, my favorite of all: Grits with two eggs cooked therein. I did happen to be visiting friends who raise hens, but that only made things easier.
You know that eggs are simple, almost infinitely useful; these are clichés I can barely bring myself to repeat. That people have trouble embracing them — this is perpetually baffling. Part of this perception problem comes from the cholesterol scare of a generation ago, from which we’ve barely recovered. (Six eggs every 24 hours may be a bit much, but they’re hardly among the worst foods in our diet.) Part comes from a general fear of food: for many of us, the natural state of the egg is a McMuffin; a raw egg demands more of a commitment. The egg-combination generator is a way of dealing with some of these issues. (I also devote a bit of space to this very subject in my new book, “How to Cook Everything: The Basics.”)
If you can cook an egg, you can cook breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks — not only for yourself but for almost anyone else. There are things that turn people off at different times of day, but unless you’re a vegan, an egg is not likely to be one of them.
If you can imagine eggs in slightly-out-of-the-ordinary dishes — salad, pasta, grits — you can begin to imagine a world of inexpensive, blazingly fast recipes. Start with a runny egg on a lightly dressed salad, maybe with a little bacon and some croutons. Yes, it’s damned good without the egg. With it, it’s transcendent.