In 2009, I caught a virus at the office. It was called The Master Cleanse. When you catch it, you willingly agree to consume nothing but lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for 10 days straight. One day, everything was normal, and then the next, dozens of my co-workers were falling under the spell of a protocol forged in the 1940s and then re-popularized in the late-aughts by Demi, Oprah, Beyoncé and more. On paper it's about "flushing out toxins", "resetting your gut" and "restoring balance" but really, it's about shedding double-digit pounds in less than two weeks. And it's almost achievable if you are doing it with others, hence the virus taking over the office. I had no immunity, and thus I too fell prey the Master Cleanse.
Once you get over the severe calorie deficit, life can take on a somewhat pleasant, dreamlike quality, on about day 4. Not great for getting work done, but fun for sitting around with other fellow cleansers to share how nice it is to take a break from all of the energy of digesting food. But before the lucid dream state are days of discomfort and boredom. What are you supposed to do with the time you normally spend eating, or thinking about eating?
Me, I kept thinking about eating. In fact, I kept a running journal of all of the things I wanted to eat during my time on The Master Cleanse. As was anticipated, my cravings for sugar were strong at the beginning (warm currant scone with lemon zest with a dollop of clotted cream, palmiers with a cup of coffee) and as the cleanse did its work on my body and psyche, my cravings shifted to more nourishing things (miso soup, salmon with rice and broccoli). But the dish I wanted above all others, that never wavered, was an egg sandwich on a kaiser roll, with an over medium egg, fontina cheese, prosciutto and arugula. These were the days before Bobbie's Boat Sauce, otherwise it would specifically be Hot Boat Sauce between the prosciutto and the egg.
The cleanse eventually ended and I eventually satisfied the cravings that emerged over those 10 days, except for the egg sandwich. Which is not to say that I didn't get my egg sandwich, rather The Master Cleanse of 2009 left me permanently craving egg sandwiches, for the rest of my life.
You know why I like an egg sandwich? Because they're timeless, seasonless, and mutable. With the exception of the namesake egg and its placement between slices of bread or bread-like objects, anything can happen. Meat, or no meat. Cheese, or no cheese. Cold arugula, or hot peppers, or both on the same sandwich. Kaiser roll or english muffin or white sandwich bread or open-faced on a thick slice of sourdough. Two latkes replace the bread. Butter, but sometimes mayo, and, since 2018, Bobbie's Boat Sauce - everytime.
My go-to egg sandwich usually starts with an english muffin, and I'm particularly fond of Stone & Skillet's, which almost verge on biscuit texture. There is butter. There may be some bacon, or canadian bacon, or my personal favorite, shoulder-cut bacon. If it's summer, I may BLT it up a little. There may or not be tomato, bacon, avocado, and lettuces, but there is usually always an over-medium fried egg. Lately, I've been sprinkling on grated sharp cheddar over the egg once it's flipped, covering the pan, and letting the cheese melt on top and crisp up a little on the sides. Then the Classic Boat Sauce comes on, between the top of the cheese and the bottom of the buttered muffin. There is always a napkin nearby. And, if it's before noon, a cup of black coffee.
Beyond its versatility, I love that an egg sandwich is a simple, wholesome comfort in a world that feels particularly on edge. It's not a lose-your-consciousness-in-cheese-and-carb gut bomb, but it does soothe the soul. It's a low-stakes salve for a high stress moment, a gentle squeeze on the shoulder, and a reminder that it's not that hard to take care of yourself. And for these reasons it will always have more health benefits than The Master Cleanse.