It was my own fault. I pestered him. You'll have something, I said, go on, you must: porridge, eggs, a slice of toast? The father of my sister-in-law capitulated eventually, "Go on then, I'll just have a boiled egg."
Great! I said. Great, great, great. Good. Fine. Just one? Just one boiled egg. Coming up!
I googled, like some boomer parody of 20-somethings, 'How to boil an egg'.
My poached eggs would make you weep with their sheer perfection; I have a special pan, just for when I fancy a fried one. My scramblers are flawless. I have served perfect legs of lamb, to rounds of applause. I am the kind of asshole who says, "Wouldn't it be easier to just make our own pesto?" and doesn't buy ground spices.
I don't like my clothes, or my conversation, or my writing, but, god damn it, I can cook. My cooking is good.
How to cook something you can't see? It's a leap of faith; a Delia Smith throw of the dice; a trust exercise.
Perhaps I panicked. I'm a researcher by nature - I couldn't trust the first page on Google's results; I scanned the next six like I was cramming for a test. None of them agreed. Almost boiling water? Bubbling but not rolling boil? Timing is key, for the size. The box says medium, but this egg looks miniature. Aluminium, stainless steel or cast-iron pots?
The arbitrary timer went off. I scooped the egg out of the water and looked at it very closely, as if I might see through the shell to its furtive yolk. I shook it gently and held it to my ear, as if it might tell me its secrets. The egg, which betrayed no outward signs of its cruel baptism, regarded me impassively, its blankness taunting my thwarted perfectionism.
I set it in front of him, this man who wasn't even hungry, and took a couple of steps back, heart pounding in my chest.
He lopped off the top. Viscous, semi-opaque albumen oozed like clotted blood. "Mmm," he said. "Lovely, thank you!" Salmonella dripped from his spoon. He wouldn't let me take it back: the perfect guest, he cleared his plate.
I can blanch and brown and bain-marie; I can deglaze, emulsify, and even escagraph. I cannot boil an egg.
We are all about being loud and proud in saying 'vagina', but, must it be used quite so much? Gwyneth Paltrow's candle - This Smells Like My Vagina - was a tipping point. Recently, we heard a mother in the playground call out, after her daughter fell, 'Are you alright darling, did you hurt your vagina?' Perhaps it's time to give it a little rest?
Sunday Indo Life Magazine