Monday, July 8, 2019

A Delicacy of Eggs

Eggs are like writing.
No, seriously.
Look, I know, everything is like writing, but eggs are really like writing.
It's about the attitude.
I mean, it's only eggs, right?
Anyone can cook an egg.
That's how people feel about eggs, and it's true as far as that goes. There are certain things with eggs anyone ought to be able to do proficiently enough so that they're edible. Minimally. Hard boiled. Scrambled. Egg over hard. (Look, I didn't know what it was called; I had to look it up. Dumb name, and I never make them that way, because, basically, that's an unskilled way to make a fried egg.)
And people seem to think that "everyone has a story in them," which may or may not be true, but people say it all the time.
There's this attitude that anyone can write if only they sat down to do it.
Like anyone can make eggs.

But not everyone can make good eggs. If anyone and everyone could do it, diner eggs wouldn't need salt or hot sauce or ketchup. They would just be good and you could eat them without a bunch of augmentation. But when was the last time you had eggs at a diner that didn't taste like paper?
When's the last time you made eggs that didn't taste like paper?

The problem with eggs is that they actually take a lot of attention. That is, if you want them to be good, they do. They're only "easy" to make when you don't care what you're getting as the end product.

Let me give you an example:
I make what we in my house call fancy eggs. They're "fancy" because they're all creamy and stuff. In fact, they have cream in them.
And here's the problem with eggs:
A recipe won't get you where you want to go, not with eggs. There's no "cook for four minutes" that will get you good eggs every time you make them. Or, probably, any time you make them.
So fancy eggs start out as mostly conventional scrambled eggs. [No, I'm not giving out any of my cooking secrets! They were hard won, and you can go figure out your own secrets!] Then, when they're almost done, almost but not quite, you turn the heat off, add in the cream, and mix it in in the still hot skillet.

This did come from a recipe book, but the book is... well, it's not anymore clear than I just was about when and how to add in the cream. Why? Because you have to be standing there watching the eggs to know when. In fact, you have to work these eggs the entire time they're cooking if you want them to turn out right. There's none of this pouring the eggs into the skillet and doing something else for a few moments while the eggs cook on their own, then stirring them up a bit and going back to the other thing, repeat until eggs are done. [I know that's how you do it, because, when you make plain old scrambled eggs, that works just fine. Fine enough, at any rate.] But for these eggs, you have to work them the whole time and you have to pay attention to just how cooked they are so that you know when to add the cream.
Too soon and you have runny, soupy eggs that no one is going to want to eat.
Too late and the eggs are cooked through and the cream won't mix in so you have scrambled eggs sitting in a puddle of cream.
How do you know when you're at the correct moment to add the cream? Experience.

No two eggs are alike. It's similar to why I hate recipes that call for two cloves of garlic. What does that even mean? Garlic cloves can vary in size from the size of your pinky nail to the size of your thumb (or thereabouts, it's close enough, okay!). You have to be more specific. And who only wants just two cloves of garlic anyway? Wimps, that's who!
Look, what I'm saying is that you don't get the same volume of egg goop from six eggs from one time to the next, so the cooking time required is going to be different every single time. Sure, the difference is a matter of seconds, but when your eggs go from not-done-enough for cream to too-done for cream within about 10 or 12 seconds, you don't have any time to play around with. You have to be working the eggs and have the cream ready to go in. Also, the amount of cream has to vary somewhat, and you can only tell how much to put in by paying attention to the eggs.

It's expertise.

I know I started all of this by comparing this whole egg thing to writing, and it's a good metaphor. Most books are diner eggs, and that's probably all I need to say about that.
However, I think this is also a good metaphor for democracy. ["Oh, god, does everything have to be politics?" Well, yes, I think maybe it does. Right now, at any rate.] I think we in the United States took our democracy for granted, had that whole "it's only voting" mindset. We quit paying attention to it and let it get too done. Maybe burned. Maybe ruined. I don't know. I suppose we'll find out in 2020. If Trump (#fakepresident) wins again, legitimately or not, we'll know that democracy is over in the USA. The Republicans will be too firmly entrenched and civil rights will really begin to become a thing of the past. They're working hard at making that so right now.
Sorry, women, take your shoes off and get your asses back in the kitchen.
Sorry, black men... Yeah... Just, I'm sorry. I have nothing quippy to say to that.

If Trump (#fakepresident) loses... Well, it may also already be too late if he loses. I suppose we'll have to wait and see how that plays out. One thing is certain, he's not going to pass over the reins of power peacefully. At the very least, he's going to start screaming that the election was rigged, which is where things will get dicey. It's all going to depend on how his followers, both in and out of the government, respond to his throwing a tantrum. It may mean that it's time to throw that skillet of eggs in the trash and start again.
But I hope not.
Because it will mean that blood is being spilled.
And blood is already being spilled.
Or put in cages.
People being allowed to die, at any rate.

What all of this comes down to is that if you want to be good at something, at anything, you have to pay attention to it. You have to practice it. You have to do it. You can't leave your eggs to cook themselves, and you can't allow other people to take care of the vote you ought to be casting.
And putting words on a page in sentence format doesn't mean you're going to have a book worth reading.


  1. What if you don't like eggs? Sorry, I'm getting too caught up in the metaphor. I just really can't stand eggs and now I can't stop thinking about that.

    1. Jeanne: If you don't like eggs, there's probably something wrong with you. Like with my oldest son saying for YEARS that he didn't like cheese despite loving pizza and not eating burgers unless there was cheese on them.
      Besides, you like cake.