Thoughts on learning that I have eaten English muffins wrong all my life
Today, I found out I had been eating English muffins wrong my whole life.
This morning, while at breakfast in a hotel before Abby and I were checking out before returning home, I suddenly decided I might as well change things up and eat my egg and sausage patties inside the halves of an English muffin (yesterday I had eaten them alone, and an uninspiring crappy plain bagel on the side).
As I was about to bite into my sandwich, Abby interrupted me and said, “You need to toast the English muffin.” I said, “I’ve never toasted an English muffin.” She made a face of disgust and said, “Eww, that’s wrong, English muffins are designed to be eaten toasted! They are disgusting raw.”
I disputed that there was a “right” way to eat English muffins, but allowed her to toast the muffin halves for me.
The resulting sandwich tasted pretty good. I then realized that I had been eating English muffins wrong my entire life. How could this be?
My breakfast growing up in America
You have to understand that I spent the first couple of years of my remembered childhood, as the first child of immigrant parents to America, eating a breakfast that often consisted of congee (rice porridge) with toppings (I particularly liked pickled cucumbers and rousong, a dried pork product).
Bread was not part of my usual diet until I went to Kindergarten in New York City, where I ate free lunches and was introduced to such bizarre concepts as the grilled cheese sandwich.
I did increasingly eat “American” foods as I grew up, but still, I was never introduced to the full variety of breakfast foods for a long time. It wasn’t until I was over ten years old, for example, that I took the initiative and convinced my mother that we should try out pancakes and waffles and cinnamon toast. Jellies, jams, syrup, butter really came into my life then.
But English muffins were somehow left out. My mother bought them but apparently we ate them wrong. We didn’t toast them. And because they didn’t taste so good to me, I never really ate them again. For the next decades of my life, given a choice, I never took an English muffin if I could instead eat a donut, cupcake, bagel, or ordinary sliced bread. I had come to associate English muffins with “not tasty”.
Lessons learned from my conversion today
Well, this morning I learned that toasted English muffins are actually pretty good. They have a particular texture, form factor, aroma, crispness when toasted. Although I currently try to limit my intake of bread in general, in the future if I am confronted with the usual free hotel breakfast, I will definitely choose English muffins!
After we returned home, I actually looked online to find out the “truth” about English muffins. Well, it turns out that a lot of people online do note that raw English muffins don’t taste so good.
What broader lessons have I learned?
- It is possible for an immigrant to live in a country for decades and yet not fully understand what a native does, simply because of early choices or misleading experiences in some aspect of life.
- Just because something tastes bad in one form doesn’t mean it has to taste bad in all its possible forms (I am always learning this; I only recently learned to enjoy Brussels sprouts.
- Although there is no such thing, objectively, as preparing or eating something the “wrong” way, you might find some ways (including generally accepted traditional practices) to have merit.
- People don’t always tell you when you’re doing something “wrong”. Some might just be polite and remain silent. Others might let the oddity slip because they think you are just being weird and truly enjoy raw English muffins. Don’t make the assumption that people are doing what they really like; they could just be operating out of habit and not knowing or having explored an alternative.
I enjoyed learning that English muffins are actually edible after all. I don’t really expect to ever eat a raw English muffin again.
Has anyone ever pointed out something to you that you weren’t aware of even though maybe you “should” have known? Did you feel embarrassed or argue, or did you try out the new suggestion? When you see someone doing something weird, do you ever step in and offer a suggestion, or do you prefer to be polite and not be nosy?
This evening when discussing the breakfast incident with Abby, somehow the subject of bagels came up and she said something about toasting bagels, and I recoiled in horror, because I was pretty sure that bagels are not supposed to be toasted. Again, I had to consult the Internet to find out the “truth”.
As you might expect, the truth is that I grew up with bagels living in New York City and the East Coast in general, before moving to the Midwest. “Real New Yorkers don’t toast their bagels”. If you have access to a fresh, good bagel, it’s pretty wrong to toast it, right? Well, as the article points out, there are differing opinions, admittedly, and nobody argues that a crappy stale bagel or a frozen one shouldn’t be toasted. Still, out of sheer habit, I have never toasted a bagel, even if it might deserve toasting. Interesting, huh? It’s just a habit. I see the logic of reviving a bagel as needed. So I will consider toasting crappy bagels in the future if they need that treatment.comments powered by Disqus