Thursday, June 21, 2007

notes on eggs

How do you crack your eggs? Do you think about it? Do you notice when the yolk is whole or runny, if it is yellow like marigolds or buttercups, yellow like Easter dresses, if it is golden? Do you feel when the white is thicker close to the yolk? Do you know what that means? Do you know all of the names of the parts of an egg? Are you especially good at cooking eggs? When you separate eggs, do you do it like your mother first showed you, back when you were just a girl who still wore dresses, and if it wasn't your mother who showed you, then who?

What does it say about you, how you crack your eggs?

In school we separated our eggs slowly into plastic measuring cups, not having been taught any tricks. In school we talked, worked sometimes in pairs, marveled at double yolks. We were not taught to be good egg cooks.

On my first job I cracked flats of eggs into large metal pitchers eighty or ninety at a time. The grumpy baker told me to take one in each hand and smash them together lightly, letting the egg crack the egg. He was always sighing as he pulled out eggshells, but then again, he was always sighing over something.

At Temple Bar I cracked my eggs slowly, slowly, and always before I ran upstairs to the stove to boil cream for custard bases or ice cream. I was a ghost in a grey basement, just passing through.

At Sonsie however I cracked my eggs it wasn't good enough. When separating I was supposed to crack them open with one hand, letting the egg fall into my other hand and gently hold the yolk. This was hard for me to manage and my hands did a one-two waltz as the left never trusted the right to do anything properly.

At Oleana, I cracked eggs rarely, but always composted the shells.

At Miette we were taught to lay the eggs in dozen boxes twelve or so at a time with flaps interlocking. We broke eggs six at a time into a bowl and scooped out the yolks with one hand, sliding the yolks on our palms. The whites we dumped into buckets for someone to make something out of, most likely buttercream.

Now I crack my eggs with parchment underneath the flat and one egg in each hand. A sharp rap and then I pull it open. Deposit the shell back in the flat, trade the free egg into the left hand, reach underneath for another egg, and in between find the space to rap, crack, slip. I am light on my feet and sway, letting my hands lead my body where it falls best as I get through the eggs, doing a little egg dance unobserved in my cramped kitchens.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

That is a lovely post. As you can imagine, I crack and separate a lot of eggs every day. Your description of the sway struck a chord, echoing something that my body know but that my mind never processed.
Thank you.