Lord, I tried to make a poached egg the other day. It seemed so easy. A poached egg. Surely everyone knows how to make such a thing. Everyone but me, that is.
I had come home from a long day at the office, and I was hungry and didn’t want anything too fussy for dinner. The Crohn’s wasn’t having its best day, and I thought, right, eggs, easy on the digestion, not greasy, not too involved to make. Great. Eggs it is.
When I’m home, The Mom will normally make me a poached egg. I have seen her do this many, many times. She has also, in fact, instructed me on how to do it. So in theory I know how, but this one particular evening and for reasons I don’t fully understand, it all went terribly wrong.
The first problem was maybe that I was trying to do too many things at once. I had the laptop in the kitchen, was involved in two Facebook conversations, and was monitoring some kind of Twitter situation, whilst watching the evening news, making my lunch for the next day, thinking about my novel, and trying to make a poached egg.
So maybe I was taking multi-tasking to its natural limits. Fair enough. But I feel like a poached egg is something hungover people can make, and therefore to me, it’s the sort of thing anyone can do. I had felt that there was a standardised way of preparing such an egg, and I took to Facebook to ask the advice of my friends.
Which was the dumbest thing I have ever done.
Immediately, and I mean like social media immediately, I was overwhelmed with advice.
Put the egg in a shallow dish of water, get it spinning clockwise, get the boiling water in a shallow pan spinning clockwise, then gently tip the egg into the water.
Put the egg in some cling film, add vinegar to the water in the pan, put the egg in and then let it sit there for precisely three minutes and forty seconds.
Add salt. Add vinegar.
Boiling water, simmering water, water about to come to a boil.
Gently spoon water over the egg. Gently skim off the foam.
Minister to the egg. Ask it about its feelings. Start a college fund for it.
Meanwhile, I was burning the toast.
Anyhow, I had put on Facebook a message in which I had tagged The Mom, assuming that she was online and would provide sensible advice in good time.
She didn’t notice until the next day, leaving me pray to my many helpful friends who inundated my page with videos, secret recipes, and all manner of advice.
The next day, when The Mom noticed she’d been tagged and read the entirety of the story, I received an email.
Good grief, she wrote. What is this disaster? You can’t poach an egg? What’s wrong with you? An idiot can poach an egg. (side note: not true, because I cannot).
I pointed out to her all the various tips and conflicting bits of advice that had appeared underneath my post overnight. Regarding all the coddling the poor egg required The Mom was dismissive. It’s an egg, she wrote, not the Fabrege kind. Just put it in the water and when it’s cooked, you take it out and eat it.
But The Mom’s version of how easy and simple it is to poach an egg belies years of being a mother and years of practice, and probably some other kind of witchery that involves the curing of cast iron pans in hot ovens that does not end in burning the house down.
What I think we can all take away from this, is the fact that though we can easily download and install whatever app or driver we may need to help us do the most basic things in life is superseded by the actual experience of having done whatever the app does in the first place. Like finding your way around town, or remembering when someone’s birthday is. Actually doing things these ourselves is how we learn. Because without doing them we’re going to end up in a world where idiots like me can’t cook an egg.