Defining personality: if people were eggs

by Emily Kemme
defining personality

When defining a person’s qualities, people are sometimes described in the same way as if we were talking about food. Food metaphors run rampant when we are describing our fellow Earth companions. Fruit and egg metaphors top the bunch.

For example, time flies when you’re having fun, but what does it do while you’re waiting for a pear to ripen?

I know. I don’t have to wait for it to ripen, and staring it down in the fruit bowl isn’t going to make it happen any faster.

But, some pears must be coaxed. Putting them into a brown paper bag is a touted trick, according to wise folks. Others recommended baking a pear into submission. The transition from hard-as-a-rock to delectable breakfast treat might be eased by sprinkling an intractable pear with dried oatmeal, brown sugar, and dots of butter. Then stick it in the oven and let the heat work its magic.

This advice was all very hopeful, until a third person informed me that some pears never ripen at all. They were propagated to be hard-as-a-rock, and there they will stay. Eat them and (try to) enjoy them as they are.

As it happens, people and pears have a lot in common, personality wise.

I have found that pears, eggs, and people have a lot in common.

Even more than pears, eggs are often compared to people, or used as metaphors for personality descriptions. There are several reasons for that. An egg represents the life cycle — a chicken and a rooster have sex, and Whoop! There’s another egg with a chick tidily concealed inside. And then there’s the coincidence that eggs and faces have somewhat of the same shape. You can draw a person’s face on an egg — it’s almost a ready-made sketch pad.

People who are tough are considered “hard boiled,” while those who are pushovers might be “over-easy.” Back in England in the 1800s, if you liked a chap and thought he was decent, you called him a “good egg.” Conversely, there is the guy nobody likes, the one who’s guaranteed to spill red wine on your plush white carpet and somehow blame the fact that he tripped on you. Clearly, that guy is a “bad egg.”

Remember, this was before the days of the internet, and even television. People classified the world around them by looking at the world around them.

Eggs today have the potential to be more than just character descriptions.

My daughter Isabelle and I were talking about people’s personalities in a non-egglike way over a goblet of frozen sangria and a tightly rolled yet tasteless burrito at Fuzzy’s Tacos to celebrate her 25th birthday. Eggs, it seems, are not how 20-somethings describe people. That is so 1800s.

Instead, they fit them into a chart, aligning moral qualities with the fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons.

As with any good novelist’s character study, a person’s individuality is governed by the rules they decide to follow (or don’t), and the actions they choose to take based on those rules. World view plays a large part here. Dungeons & Dragons has nine character definitions, ranging from basically decent and law-abiding (boring) to nightmare. Rules (or laws) are the first axis: how lawful is the person? Morals are the basis for the second axis: are people good, neutral, or evil when it comes to their actions?

But as a food writer — who craves eggs in any shape or form — let’s chart personalities as breakfast.

Dungeons & Dragons alignment with eggs
Dungeons & Dragons moral alignment, egg-style. (Design: J. Harrison Kemme; Photos: Emily Kemme)

Lawful Good: this is the simple omelette. Consisting of mixed eggs and a few splashes of water, the omelette is consistently pure. Those sprinkles of Italian parsley enhance its golden glowing quality.

Neutral Good: hard boiled eggs with a semi-soft yolk (cooked on low for 11 minutes in a gentle water bath), are paired with a slice of toast (with jam for a hint of deviant rule-breaking because toast tastes better with jam), and a bowl of blueberries. In the food world, blueberries are akin to the charming little blue birds which twitter and dance around every Disney princess.

Chaotic Good: this oozing Smashed Avocado Eggs Benny is still on the morally good plane but let’s admit it. We’ve got egg porn here. Yolk happens.

Lawful Neutral: adhering to law and order, this Tuscan Eggs Benedict, perched atop a tomato slice, prosciutto, and an enormous basil leaf, underscores it is following the rules to a T. See how its drizzles of balsamic vinegar are in straight lines? No wavering for art’s sake, here.

True Neutral: balanced and yellow, everything is cheerily golden sunshine in the world of this hard boiled egg – peach partnership.

Chaotic Neutral: the free spirit Benedict plate depicts a Snooze combo of the Bella! Bella! Benny and the Steak + Eggs Benny. It’s a pairing that does what it likes, and who cares if the flavor palate is a little f****ed.

Lawful Evil: bacon and eggs, with a side of hash browns are evil, you ask in dismay? Yes, they are. There is a lot of structure here on this classic breakfast plate. While ruling the breakfast world for decades, it doesn’t step a toe out of line. It’s not the healthiest choice, either.

Neutral Evil: this is the personality that switches sides if it’s better for them. The dish was called “Steak and Eggs” but it looks like a Benedict in disguise, to me. It’s hard to know for sure until you tuck in.

Chaotic Evil: Huevos Rancheros, rule breaker extreme. Full of heat and a battle of flavors, it’s guaranteed to burn up your innards.

Now, it’s your turn. If people were eggs, what kind of egg are you?

This post is dedicated to Isabelle. We love you forever and always.

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Mike King October 19, 2019 - 10:50 am

Can’t wait to have breakfast ❤️ !

Sue Zayicek October 19, 2019 - 10:50 am

I had eggs today

Tim Rotunda October 12, 2019 - 10:28 am

Fresh Pacific Salmon & Cream Cheese Scrambles. Calico Cupboard, La Conner, WA. Add a cinnamon roll on the side and you will not want for anything.

J. Andre October 12, 2019 - 10:26 am

Definitely Scrambled!

Dr. K October 11, 2019 - 6:37 pm

Hmmm, I always order Huevos Rancheros, does that make me Chaotic Evil?

Emily Kemme October 11, 2019 - 6:38 pm

Look deep into your heart and then tell me.


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