It seems my noble but ill-fated experiment -- in the name of good journalism -- is coming back to haunt me.
We had a heat wave of epic proportions in the 1990s, one comparable to the one we're going through now. And if you've been following our coverage this week, you'll notice that we've been casting far and wide for new angles on how to cover this blistering saga.
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Back in the day, I suspect we were scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas when I came up with this gem: Let's prove or debunk the legend about it being so hot you can fry an egg on the hood of a car. With reporter, photographer and fascinated staffers in tow, I led an expedition into the parking lot of the Daily Herald's DuPage headquarters in Lisle.
I cracked an egg on the trunk lid of my dad's car (mine was in the shop). Instead of sizzling and firming up, it kind of oozed off the trunk lid, into some crevices, and unceremoniously dripped onto the bumper. I scrambled to keep some of it on the trunk, but after several minutes, it was obvious this wasn't going to work.
As readers of my colleague Jim Slusher's column know, this scheme of mine was brought up in one of our news meetings this week on covering the heat. I quickly pointed out my attempt failed, and worse, the reporter assigned to "cover" this media event was just a trifle sarcastic in her story.
Unaware of my failure (come to think of it, maybe it was a success; I proved this couldn't be done), the experiment was resurrected this week by photographer George LeClaire, who wisely enlisted Food Editor Deborah Pankey and admittedly came up with a much better-thought-out plan. LeClaire used a frying pan, coated it with oil and placed it on the dashboard of his car, where Pankey pointed out, "the heat is trapped like an oven. I bet if you turned the heat on in the car it would cook even faster; get the blower going, it will be like convection cooking."
LeClaire could see he was headed toward success after only 10 minutes, and he reported that the egg was completely cooked, with crispy edges and all, after just 90 minutes. Now, in this era of social networking, George spread the news of his accomplishment far and wide on twitpic and Facebook. I'm just showing and telling the old-fashioned way.
And our food editor offers this useful advice should anyone else be compelled to try to repeat the experiment: "Make sure the cooking surface is sanitized and that the egg has cooked to 140 degrees to kill off any potentially harmful pathogens :)"