by Crispin Best
There are six eggs in the pan. I fill the pan with cold water from the tap until the eggs are covered. I place the pan on the gas.
After two minutes, I remove an egg. This egg is chosen at random. I hold it. If you hold an egg up to the light, you can see the inside. I do not do this. This egg is cold. It is not cooked. I removed the egg too soon. The insides are clear where they should ideally be white. The yolk is feeble. This much I know.
I wait a further minute. I remove a second egg. This egg is also chosen at random. It is also not cooked. The insides are once again clear. The insides seem more viscous this time. I wonder if this is perhaps my imagination. For later reference, I give this egg a viscosity score of 6 out of 10, where I imagine the standard viscosity of an uncooked egg to be 5. I rough out a chart and write this score in a small pad that is sitting on the countertop near the toaster. I use a clicky pen. The pad says ‘recipes’ on the front cover. I ask the pad to forgive me.
I wait a further minute. I remove a third egg. This leaves three eggs in the pan. I am using a teaspoon to retrieve the eggs. Bear this in mind. This egg, which has been chosen at random, is also not cooked. There is some evidence of what-looks-like peripheral coagulation in this egg. All the same, I decide to give this egg the same viscosity score as the previous egg. I don’t deal in half marks. This egg is warm. I have touched the egg. I blow on my fingers to cool them where the egg stung me. With the fingers of my other hand, I click the pen.
I wait a further minute. I remove a fourth egg. It dries quite quickly. This egg is partly cooked and has been chosen at random. There is evidence of a reasonable amount of congealment. The yolk, however, still quivers in a small see-through pool. This is not ideal. Opacity is ideal for eggs. This much I know. The insides of the egg are extremely hot. They drip down the dark pink palm and fingers of my right hand, my egg-crushing hand.
I wait a further minute. I remove the fifth egg. I smile. I am confident. I swaddle the egg in a paper towel. My face is upside-down in the spoon. I lop the slender end of the egg off. This egg is cooked. The yolk is soft and penetrable and lies snug in the white. The egg’s shell is very hot. I am eager. I feel my head nodding on my shoulders. In my haste, I neglect to give this egg a viscosity score. I sprinkle salt on my toast soldiers, which is a secret of mine. I dip the soldiers in the egg. The yolk yields. I eat.
After finishing, I wait a further minute. I remove the sixth egg, which is the final egg. I place the egg on the chopping board. I turn off the gas. I swallow saliva and put my ear close to the hob. There is no sound, which is ideal. I pour the hot water from the pan down the plughole and place the pan in the sink. I examine the final egg. This egg is overcooked. The yolk is churned, its colour unimpressive. I smash the egg three times with a rolling pin. I wash my hands, roll down my shirtsleeves and fix my tie in the mirror. I set off for the big conference. I can do this. I know I can do this.
Crispin Best was born in 1983 and lives next door to the house in London that he grew up in.