‘And the poached eggs for...’ said the waitress, glancing at my pregnant belly then at me. Her eyes widened in panic. ‘These aren’t hard-poached. Did you order this? Is this yours?’
She hovered the plate in the air above the table, evidently to waft the melted butter under my pregnant nose.
My fork-grip tightened. ‘Yep. It’s fine. Thanks.’
Watch: Things pregnant people never say. Post continues below.
She put the plate on a neighbouring empty table and kneeled next to my chair. ‘I can ask the kitchen to make it again,’ she said gently, smiling encouragingly. She can’t have been older than 20. ‘It’s really no problem.’
I stared at my partner Sam across the table, my face reddening. A milk steamer screeched from the coffee machine behind me. He would tell me afterwards it looked like steam was shooting out the top of my skull.
The woman stood slowly and retrieved the plate from the table behind her, heavier in her hand now. Somberly, she placed the eggs in front of me. A loaded gun to a madwoman. To her credit, she refrained from crossing herself before walking away.
The Food Authority of NSW suggests avoiding raw eggs during pregnancy, as there is a risk of contracting Salmonella, which, in the vast majority of cases, isn’t a big deal, but under rare circumstances, can cause harm to the baby or even death. However, the bacteria is killed instantly at 74 degrees, and since the recommended cooking temperature of a soft poached egg is 75 degrees, even in the event that the food was contaminated (one in twenty thousand eggs is thought to contain Salmonella), in all likelihood, it would pose no risk.
Statistically, I’d be more likely to fall into a snake pit than harm my unborn baby with an order of poached eggs, but this is of little consequence to the issue at hand. It's a logical argument in response to an illogical one, a belief held deep and true in the hearts of well-meaning idiots everywhere: Expecting mothers belong to the public.