Sunny side up egg on black frying pan



I hate eggs. Scrambled, fried, poached, sunny side up… I don’t care how they’re prepared, I just despise them. Putting aside my father’s history of severe anaphylactic reaction to eggs (and the subsequent ban he placed on us having any trace of the airway-restricting, rash-inducing ingredients in our house when I was growing up), my personal egg enmity is simply a matter of taste… and, texture… oh, and don’t get me started on the smell. 

I’ll end my egg-splation there, save to say I was probably the only child that breathed a sigh of relief when Humpty couldn’t be put back together again. Fast forward thirty-odd years, and at least once a week, usually on a Sunday morning, I’m confronted once again with my childhood fear of eggs when I’m perusing the menu at my favourite cafe. 

Behind me, Satan. We discover how to avoid being charged for eggs, and other items, you can’t stomach. Picture: Bernardo Ramonfaur.

For the egg-phobic, breakfast can be a terrifying meal: not only do most menu items contain (more than traces of) egg/s, asking the waiter whether the yolky staple can be substituted for an alternative item is, far too often, an egg-cruciating exercise. Not to mention an infuriatingly expensive one.

So, if you, like me, are looking to egg-stricate your brekky bagel from Benedict’s brine and replace it with, say, a golden hash brown; or you’ve decided you’d prefer your supreme pizza pepperoni-less, but with a few pieces of chicken instead; or perhaps it’s those two slices of tomato on a burger in your firing line and, as a trade-off, you’d like a bit of beetroot, then here are a few things to keep in mind, so you don’t get stung any extra cash. 

Firstly, context is key. If you’re at the local takeaway and you’re paying under $10 for a quick bite to eat, then don’t even think of asking for a cost-neutral substitution. If you’re sitting down at a cafe or restaurant, though, and the price of the meal you’re ordering is clearly far more than the sum of its parts, then, I reckon, you’re in with a fighting chance.

The second important consideration is what percentage the item you’re looking to have substituted makes up of the overall meal. I reckon if the offending ingredient constitutes more than 33.3 percent, then you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. Stop being silly and just order something else.

Thirdly, and probably most critically, is doing a quick cost-effort analysis of the task you’re proposing for the kitchen staff. If the replacement ingredient is similarly priced, takes a relatively similar time to prepare and, thus, prima facie is an easy switcheroo, then give it a shot.

Most importantly, it’s vital to put your cards on the table at the very beginning and utter the magic words “without extra charge” when you’re making your proposition to the waiter or waitress (with a smile, of course). Failure to do so will only result in bill shock and could cause your server to become seriously salty in the process. Quite simply, nobody likes a full-stomached beggar, so, instead, I suggest being a considerate and conscientious chooser up-front; only then can you be a truly successful substituter by meal’s end. 

So, there you have it, my tips for a successful substitution. I wish you well, because life’s simply too short to haggle over unwanted eggs, especially when you could just be chowing down on a hash brown instead!

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