It seems that I have more to learn from that peerless creation: the egg. I have already written about how I am slowing myself down to focus on the delicious taste and the vivid color of the velvet yolks, opting for mono-tasking over multi-tasking. I buy my eggs from a farm nearby, and I am so impressed by their quality that I cannot truly enjoy any others.

But there is more to learn, says the egg. Now I have to learn not to let my myself wander away during egg preparation. What normally happens: I put a pot of water on to boil, and while it is heating up--those unendurably long minutes!--I go to the computer, check mail....start reading...linking...answering...and the next thing I know, horrible smells are wafting past my nose, smells of burning metal. The water has boiled off.

So the preparation of the soft-boiled egg is becoming a ritual, akin to a tea ritual (and don't ask how many times I have let the water boil out of the tea kettle. Same problem.)

In order to truly appreciate the meal of an egg, I have to learn to be mindful from the moment I draw the water. I have to stay with that pot, start to finish.

Surely that must be it. However, somehow I think the egg will have more to tell me...


mary said...

Yes, I have the same problem. And the goal of mindfulness, attention and focus to the situations at hand is one of my 2011 resolutions. Thanks for reminding me today when I'm making pies and stuff that I need to practice listening when I am blissfully surrounded by family this Thanksgiving.

david terry said...

Oh, Ms. Browning....

(1) if you ever get around to posting some sort of P.O. box to which fans can send presents to you (don't worry about any obligatory correspondence; you can always claim that you have NO idea what they're talking about when they claim you're ungrateful), I'll send you a couple of these very strange, very practical, silex egg-poachers. My French mother-in-law forced these on me during the last 3-week visit.

2. Given your confessed experience with egg-boiling and teakettles? I think your tail needs to SLOW DOWN.

Never thought that I would find myself writing that to you, of all people.

3. You can enjoyably learn all sorts of wonderful things about eggs if you (or someone else...Christmas-lists are in order these months) cough up about twenty bucks and get yourself:

a. "Cookwise" (by the inimitable Shirley O'Cohirrer). Betcha (as Senora Palin would say) didn't know that eggs and 8th-grade-science had so much in common. Miss Shirley will tell you everything you never knew about eggs and probably correct you regarding everything you'd assumed for the past thirty years. go to:


b. then, treat yourself (this won't cost nearly so much as most alternative sources of pleasure, I promise you) to Edward Behr's "The Artful Eater". This quite justifiably acclaimed (among certain, admittedly small circles) small-ish book is a collection of various essays he's written for his self-published, quarterly newsletter (of the same name). I was really pleased when, about a year ago, the NYT came out with a feature article on Behr...with a photograph of him, standing in front of his resolutely UN-MArtha-Stewartized Vermont farmhouse.

Suffice it to say that he isn't to be confused with "The Fabulous Beeker Boys". totally different species, to say the least.

The book has an entire CHAPTER on eggs, and Mr. Behr (a Vermonter, so the following paraphrase is appropriate) delivers himself of much good news-about-eggs that is worthy of all men to know.

For various reasons, I've given the book (second edition, published in 2004) to three different old-lady friends of mine....all bedbound thse days and consigned to very restricted diets. They LOVE the book.

I expect you will, also.

go to:


Skool-marmily yours as ever,

David Terry

quintessence said...

Me too - can't tell you how many times I've done that! I eat boiled eggs quite frequently and have several tricks. Firstly, adding a tiny bit of vinegar to water helps to prevent cracking. And if I'm making hard boiled eggs, I have a little utensil that pokes a hole in one end which also helps prevent cracking. If you put them in a bowl of ice water immediately after boiling, they are MUCH easier to peel. And I loved the little pug video - SO cute.

david terry said...


Perhaps you already know this quotation from MFK Fisher (Who is/was, as far as I'm concerned, the most utterly Feminine of food writers...although, also, the most corrosively neurotic and unproductively self-absorbed).

I came across it a couple of weeks ago when I was researching for portraits of her, Elizabeth David, and Edna Lewis.

In any case, here's the quotation from Fisher:

“Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken.”

I don't think that thought would ever occur to any man, gay or straight.....

Bemusedly as ever,

david Terry

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

The egg is indeed the ne plus ultra of nosh.
My son is obsessed with his morning dose of soft-boileds, so needless to say, I'm rightfully chastised if I dare step away, stray or let the cocotte concoction cook even a minute too long.
If I had to decamp to a deserted island and could only take one food along, it would have to be the incredible, edible egg.


Anonymous said...

Hello Dominique,
I have perfected my soft-boil routine to exactly 9 minutes, and - happily for me, I do not worry it's process by watching it transform. From the moment my egg leaves the fridge, is placed in tap water in a small pan on the stove, and the flame turned rather high. I just set my timer and go about my tasks. If I add a second egg I might add another 30 seconds. There is no need to watch it simmer, bring it to boil, stand around and such.

It took several tests to determine exact time for me (size of pan, amount of water, altitude for goodness sake!) All contribute to those precious seconds. But ultimately, I've found that an egg soft boils itself in a totally lovely fashion if mindfulness is spent on something else.
Warmest and Best - C.

Anonymous said...

ahhhhhhh......eggs.......soft boiled, poached, coddled.....my favorite thing to do while they are preparing for presentation is to gaze out the window. perhaps i'll see new birds at the feeder or a sky full of mares' tails. now i just have to bring this mindfulness to the actual eating:-)

Vivien said...

Just carry an egg-timer about with you! Doesn't always work - one's attention can drift off. But most times it helps...

Bruce Barone said...

You might gain new insights from subscribing to the Blog "Thought for the Day" from Eknath Easwaran.


Lines of Beauty said...

The egg timer is a great remedy and here is another one:

take the time to stretch in the kitchen :-)

Folkways Note Book said...

A burning egg gathers no yolk -- barbara

grace said...

When I read this, I had just burnt all the water out of the pot while cooking beets. The beets survived, but burnt balsamic vinegar is not a pleasant aroma. Yes, definitely a reminder on mindfulness. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Unknown said...

An egg.
Gently, gently boiled.
Hollandaise. Blender is useful for this.