Please, Don’t Order Them Poached

Posted: May 22, 2014 in cooking, Everyday Life, Humor

What do you call an egg that is fried on one side and then turned over and cooked until the yoke is just partially solid, but still partially runny? I call it “over medium”. But it seems there is no standard for this particularly style of fried egg. For a number of years I have tried to find the proper phrase to order this egg preparation. I still haven’t found it.
At first I liked my eggs “over easy”. That’s fried on one side then turned over carefully and easy does it, not breaking the yolk, cooked “easily” to only cook the egg white. Leaving the yoke warmed but still soft and runny. It seems all restaurants understand this term. “How would you like your eggs?”…”Over easy”. Simple, no questions asked, the order is in.
But caution must be used in ordering the over easy egg. There seems to be varying states of “easiness”. I don’t like whites that are raw and yolks that aren’t properly warmed. I have been served a lot of uncooked eggs, let’s just say they were “sunny side up” not “over easy”. They were meant to be “over easy” but the cook just didn’t allow it to be “sunny side down” long enough.
The other well understood egg style is “over well”. “How would you like your eggs?”…”Over well”. Simple, no questions asked, the order is in, even at the most obscure diner with perhaps the most inexperienced cooks. “Over well” is a good bet but they may end up rubbery.
I think “Over medium” is the perfect fried egg. And obviously one of the hardest to cook and to understand. I suspect that some wait staff write down “over easy” when I order “over medium” to avoid any gnarly comments from the cook. But the hardest egg to prepare has got to be the poached.

A couple of years ago I was working with a fellow that was from India. We were working outside of St. Louis just across the river on 270 in Illinois. Diners known as “Waffle House” begin to spring up north to south starting just about there along I-70 and work their way south toward the gulf. They are everywhere as you travel into the south. I haven’t found hardly any of these dives north of I-70. You either hate Waffle Houses or you love them. It isn’t what you call high cuisine but there is a very good chance you will find your breakfast there much like it was made at home on the farm all across rural America. Basic breakfast, pancakes, grits, bacon and eggs and of course waffles and everything properly over greasy. They all make great coffee and personally I enjoy going there although you will find them in various states of repair and cleanliness. Some are immaculate, some are not but I’m sure they all pass their health inspections with only minor infractions. The typical small diner layout, tables around the outside walls, a counter with stools in the middle with an open grill kitchen immediately behind the counter. In the early morning hours a loud radio with local news will usually be playing. You can watch and smell your meal being cooked on the grill, usually by a male cook that looks like he has just retired from 15 years with the Chicago Bears defensive line, or perhaps a 10 year sentence in Joliet. The stereotype short order cook. They work very hard and it is amazing watching them cook the orders. Sort of like the Japanese teppanyaki cooks but old school American Gothic and they don’t show off by throwing the food at you or swinging knives around. They were probably doing that before Joliet. I’m surprised Steinbeck never wrote about Waffle Houses. If they had been around in his time, he would have. But you wouldn’t dream of ordering a beer ice-cream shake at a Waffle House. Or perhaps never a poached egg.

Waffle Houses have every egg necessary on the menu, fried, scrambled and omelet. That’s as far as the cook’s imagination is required to go. But it is great American atmosphere and I wanted to show Bobby what it was like here in the States among the rough and tumble working class Americans, my kind of people.

That day our 40 something waitress, experienced, wonderful personality, took my “eggs over medium” order without a question and turned to my Indian friend. He orders “two eggs”, she says “how you want those cooked Hon?”. He says “Poached?”

“Well, I’ll see what I can do with that, Hon. Never been ordered here before”.

I waited, listening, while she put in our order. Then I heard the cook’s voice “Poached! We don’t have poached on the menu! Poached! I’m not making no poached eggs!” They both paused  and discussed it for a moment and she was handed a sauce pan which she filled with water and she placed on a side burner to simmer. In between refilling other customer’s coffee cups and taking a couple of other orders she prepared Bobby’s poached eggs herself.

When our order was served my “over medium” eggs were perfect. She brought Bobby’s poached eggs and they looked delicious as well. And she said ” hope these eggs are OK, I’ve never poached an egg before in my life. Are they alright?”.  He says “yes, these look fine”, not really realizing what this hard working woman went through to get them to him.

I tipped big that morning and ever since.

Such is the life of John.


  1. Prefer the poached egg, myself, when eating out, as I never make them at home. Bon Apetite!


  2. Ha! What a great story and what a great waitress! 🙂
    I love eggs and will eat them ANY WHICH WAY I can get them! 🙂 I don’t eat them as often anymore, but I still love them! I ❤ EGGS!!! 🙂
    I ate at a Waffle House once in MO. It seems there was one on every corner and on every other corner was a Cracker Barrel. 😀 Snort! 😀
    Got to have Japanese last weekend and it was amazing and tasty as always! 🙂
    Now I'm hungry. I should of eaten on my lunch break instead of reading WP posts! 😉
    Deviled-Egg-HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Japenese food, especially teppanyaki, hope I’m spelling it the right way. But it was fun, We ate with 2 or 3 couples that we didnt even know. He waited to cook until the table around him was full of diners. 😀

      If you like grits, which I don’t, my wife says they are the best at Waffle House.

      yes the waitress was really good, I can’t imagine learning how to poach eggs while a customer was waiting. But I think the cook was telling her how to do it because he was so busy at the grill. 😛 .


  3. dirtdaubber says:

    My husband understands the egg cooking conundrum perfectly. And I like Waffle Houses – plain, simple, honest. I trained my children to go to restaurants there, because they have real dinnerware and a real waitress at Waffle Houses. We practiced there, so they know how to behave when we went to a restaurant later. Worked out well.


  4. Yes, they are a great place to take the kids, nothing over fancy just plain, simple and honest. No plastic forks or eating with our fingers and no standing in line to place an order or fill our own beverage cups. The kids interacting politely with the waitress as they tell her what they want. My son and daughter take their kids to as many sit down restaurants as they can. You are very wise in doing that.


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