When eating out, that is :)
I recently had some scrambled eggs from a breakfast buffet and only later did it occur to me that they might not have been made from "proper", unaltered eggs but perhaps from one of the pasteurised scrambled-egg mixes that comes in a carton (or so I'm told, never actually seen one of those cartons).
They tasted eggy enough and had both white and yellow (yolk) bits in them, but on the whole they were quite uniform in colour and texture (which was quite solid and with no big lumps). They also had a bit of a watery aftertaste, as though they had somehow been cooked in water (a bit like poached egg). In fact, there was some water left at the bottom of the plate...
In future I shall be avoiding scrambled eggs when eating out, to be on the safe side. But just in case, is there any way to tell the difference just by appearance, texture or taste? (other than asking staff, which may or may not yield a helpful response)
Being in the business, I think it's a safe bet to say that at the larger establishments ALL buffet scrambled eggs are from "mixes/cartons". Most to all product in commercial kitchens (ie, hotels/restaurants) is supplied by Sysco's type companies. It's all boxed/packaged food. This includes a lot of the produce and fruit too.
Another concern when eating eggs out; often pancake or waffle batter will be used to thicken eggs (mixed or real)! I no longer eat scrambled or omlettes unless I know it is simply eggs cracked into the bowl. "Thickened" eggs with a touch of sugar and gluten is not what I want for breakfast! This practice is seen from Mom and Pop to large nationwide chains.
Stick to sunny side up, or over easy fried eggs to get clear knowledge you have an unadulterated egg.
You can't really tell by appearance. If you're eating very high quality eggs at home, all eggs you eat out might not taste as good. :)
I just order mine over-easy, then I know they are cracking eggs for me. This doesn't help on a buffet, of course, but even the liquid eggs from a carton are better than 90% of what else is on that breakfast buffet!
I know it was suggested, but I definitely recommend just asking the server. In most cases, they want you to order what you want -- because your dissatisfaction with the meal would result in them getting lower tips!
If the food's not good, and overall everything seems pretty sketchy, chances are that your eggs are "cartoned" and they lied to you (if they just told you what you wanted to hear).
A safe bet, though, is that if the place you're dining at is constantly packed at breakfast, they're using quality ingredients.
probably they were, another thing to note though if your eggs are super rubbery, and water is coming out of them/under them, they are overcooked. You can do the same thing at home, a perfect scrambled egg you actually under cook slightly in the pan and let the residual heat finish the job on the plate (learned form Good Eats with Alton Brown).
if you want to to be sure its a real egg, get fried eggs, you can't really fake them and you can ask for them to be cooked in real butter too for a bonus.
You can tell "real" eggs in a buffet setting because they turn green after 15 minutes or so which is why almost every restaurant on earth running a buffet will use a mix. The mix is still made from real eggs so I don't see the point at issue here. What gets added in a mix is a small amount of citric acid (like lemon juice) that keeps the eggs from turning green but without tasting like a lemon. Even many "made to order" restaurants will use a mix (just not all at once) although your chances of getting "real" eggs straight from the shell is better in that setting.
The amount of speculation and misinformation in this thread is astounding. Unless you see the eggs get cracked with your own eyes, the scrambled eggs you get at the typical hotel's high glycemic, high carb, high fat buffet is a powdered or liquid (usually liquid) egg mix that has more fat, more calories and less nutrition than the same eggs straight from the shell. Typically, some kind of vegetable oil and extra yolks are added.
I once worked at a restaurant where we did a lot of buffets. We used liquid eggs called "Eggs In A Bag". I read the ingredients and I was not impressed.
On the other hand, the all-egg-white egg substitute products are pretty good, from what I've seen. They are more expensive than just buying eggs and removing the yolks yourself when cooking. But, when you're on the road, asking for Egg Beaters is a good idea. Those type of products do not generally add glutenous or unhealthy additives.
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