According to the common wisdom, that tiny drop of yolk in the photo is enough to stop a bowl of egg whites in their tracks and reduce them to a weepy, watery mess.
Ask any baker and they will tell you this is true. They may go on to recite the rest of the basics, described here by King Arthur Flour:
- The bowl and beaters must be clean and grease-free.
- Use a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl, not plastic.
- Egg whites will whip higher if they’re at room temperature before beating.
Admonitions to ensure everything is dry, lest a drop of water render the whites too runny to whip, are often included.
Truth be told, this isn't a particularly onerous list. If you wash your dishes, they won't be greasy; separating eggs is not rocket surgery; most of us have glass or stainless bowls; and a few minutes in warm tap water fixes cold eggs.
Still, it bothered me. Such exacting instructions coupled with dire warnings if not complied with exactly.