Who writes an essay about poached eggs? Not a man who is expecting others to take him seriously.
Oh, sure, there are serious bones in my body, but I keep much of that to myself. I choose not to become intertwined in deep conversations when someone expects me to interject some grand idea. My grand ideas are commonly downgraded to minor epiphanies once examined under the microscope of mob scrutiny.
Mob Scrutiny would be an excellent name for a band, wouldn’t it?
I embrace simplicity, well-written directions, a straight line from A to B, a road with no curves, and yes, the song, “A Horse With No Name.” There is simplicity in riding a horse with no name, but only because such a horse could be referred to by any name that rolls off your tongue. The horse might not respond, so there is a downside.
I relish lyrics I can remember, famous quotes easily memorized, and I like my eggs poached.
Why would anyone waste their time writing an essay about poached eggs? Because no one has done it—at least none that I can find. I followed the straight line from the well-seasoned hand-me-down cast-iron frying pan to the stainless-steel poaching pot. My life is better for it. I only need to have my chief poaching pilot around the house to make my dream a reality.
Here is my dilemma, I have difficulty keeping the egg white and the egg yolk together during the boiling bath that creates the most impressive way to top off a piece of lightly buttered toast.
I’ve listened to seasoned cooks explain how easy it is; I have done the homework; I have stared into the pot with my fingers crossed. I have good intentions, but the hen seeds do not often comply with my wishes.
The eggs become milky apparitions once they are cracked and dropped into the boiling water. They flit about the bubbling water in a way that makes fishing them out an exercise in futile fluidity. The yolks become independent loners who separate and stay away until they are herded onto a spoon and sadly slapped on top of the sourdough as an opaque orb of muted yellow putty; hard yokes in your poached eggs can never be considered a win.
The thing is, I do have a secret weapon, but she is only home for a few days at a time. Saturdays are the day of the planned breakfasts around here. On weekdays, I can only find time for coffee and something stale from a box. Sure, I sometimes settle for a couple of eggs— scrambled—after I liberate them from the cardboard carton that keeps them independently-suspended and mutually-exclusive. I would much rather have them poached.
This past weekend it was like an alignment of the planets—shaped like eggs—because I have never before consumed any better poached eggs in my entire life.
When I mentioned that the eggs might have been the best that I ever ate, she explained the process while pointing out a few small- details that I might have overlooked. I took notes.
She claims that the eggs are best poached when their internal temperature reflects the ambient temperature of the room where the poaching takes place; at our house, it’s the kitchen. Such poultry-based sorcery was never explained to me before.
She shared with me that while she fries the bacon—always a nice touch—she allows the elected eggs to rest nearby to the open flame of the gas burner. It’s as if they are relaxing and warming themselves by a campfire before heading over to the hot tub.
Her final secret— shared with me on a previous occasion—is that a person should always add a tablespoon of white vinegar into the boiling water before adding the nicely warmed eggs; this allows for fluffier whites. She believes that this step adds to a better overall consistency in the final product.
Whatever she did, these were the best poached eggs I have ever consumed. She added fruit in the form of large blueberries and medium-sized grapes. I would have been fine with a few more slabs of bacon, but only because I am the one that has to face down the dog who never complains about the way the eggs are cooked. It’s my fault, but I usually toss Ellie the last bite from each slice of bacon; she never misses, and when it comes to eggs, neither does the Missus.
When I groggily dropped her off at the airport on our spring ahead day, I told her again that my best memory of her most recent visit was the poached eggs. She smiled and waved from behind her pile of wheeled luggage.
I went home and liberated a couple of eggs to the counter for some free-range time before directing them to the hot tub. You probably know how they turned out, simply because the essay was about —her— poached eggs. I still ate them, but I need a little more practice.
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P.S. -Ellie says hello, mostly through the sound of friendly snoring.
(Copyright March 2021 Tim Cotton)