Mixing It Up

An odd question came to mind the other morning as I sliced into eggs benedict dressed in a not-from-scratch Hollandaise: if the only two options were a commercial (and partially artificial) dish with really good flavor or the same from fresh ingredients but decidedly less impressive in flavor, which would you choose?

You see, thanks to flaws in their freshly prepared Hollandaise, I'm often disappointed by what some Dallas restaurants pass off as eggs benedict. Hell, some places using stuff from a jar through the sauce off balance by adding more lemon juice than it can handle in an effort to make it taste house made. But here I had a sauce closer to the classic taste and texture.

Now, Hollandaise is notoriously timid. Too much heat and it falls apart. Too little and the blend of butter, egg yolk and lemon refuses to bind. So I understand why I run into so many problems...although, come to think of it, too much salt can just as easily ruin a burger.

So if the options were a patty of good ground beef, overcooked and heavily salted, or the product of some chain restaurant that injects a compound from some lab in New Jersey to boost the flavor, which would it be?

Quality and taste--when you dine at a restaurant, you probably remember both. And I think there are times when it's better to come away saying "at least that hit the spot" than "boy, they sure destroyed a great piece of fish." On the other hand (and depending on the place), I might feel cheated even more by a $15 soup started from a mix than a poorly hand-made batch more honestly priced.

Thanks to the Cowboys, I pondered this for a good chunk of the afternoon on Sunday. All things (including price) being equal, I'm leaning toward chemicals and good flavor over natural and bad--though I'm still not sure.

One thing, though: I'd rather restaurants either use a mix or scratch eggs benedict from their menu if they can't ensure a properly prepared Hollandaise.

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Dave Faries
Contact: Dave Faries