Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so ‘they’ say. I don’t normally get time to break my fast in the mornings, except when in a hotel or occasionally (frequently) on a weekend visit to the golden arches for a Sausage McMuffin. Or a Sausage and Cheese Bagel. Or both (always both).
However, whenever I see the ‘B’ word on a menu I am completely overcome with an insatiable, obsessive need to order eggs benedict. It is the best breakfast known to man, I think not least because it comes with some real provenance, a great back story. There are conflicting stories, but this seems to be the most common…
Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, claimed that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered "buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of Hollandaise." Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d'hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham for the bacon and a toasted English muffin for the toast.
Whatever the origins, it is a truly great thing. It MUST contain : an English muffin, thick-cut cured ham, a lightly poached egg and fresh hollandaise sauce. It also SHOULD contain : paprika and chopped chives sprinkled on top, in my opinion. Recent travels across the USA have revealed at least half a dozen variations on the theme, my favourite being a Southern version with some spicy Cajun-style hollandaise sauce.
I have just devoured a plate and would estimate that I eat eggs benedict at least once every two weeks, any more often and I fear it would not be considered a treat. It is one of those rare dishes where getting it right is relatively easy, a few fresh ingredients and a little love and there is no better way to start the day… the REAL breakfast of champions!