I’m Just Trying to Poach an Egg Here


I’ve gotten incredibly good at poaching eggs. I can poach them better than most. I can poach them without custard cups. I can poach them better than Alton Brown (he cheats and uses custard cups, sorry).

The first time, I boiled the water and eggs over my pan and got angry. It took me a while before I tried again. This time, I chose to try. I’m autistic and resilient. It took multiple poaches, but I got this down.

Every morning, I poach three eggs.

I pour water into a small, shallow pan in which I drop a capful of vinegar. I use a spatula, and a slotted spoon, and I wait for a boil. As my water develops bubbles, I shoo those away with my spatula. I then crack my three eggs over the flat granite countertop and lay them into the warm water.

After I turn up the heat, I sneak the spatula under each of my three eggs, giving it some lift from that pan. They float in amorphous clouds. They poach until tender, oblong, perfect.

The other day, as I was cooking breakfast that morning, poaching three eggs, my wife asked:

“Is there any way you could make me a breakfast sandwich?”

I wanted to be able to say “Yeah, sure” but my autistic reaction is my core within my core. I tensed. I froze. I could feel my retracting in a way that drew back my shoulder blades and reared my neck back, like my body recoiled at the thought of violating what had been an otherwise precise routine of poaching three eggs.

Deep breaths. Willing my nerves to undo their fraying. Thinking twice before speaking. Finding some avenue that would somehow imbue this with grace.

“Andrea,” I sighed. “I . . . is there . . . what can I make you that will work with the ingredients that I’m working with?” 

I could only change this so much. Otherwise, I just couldn’t. 

I’m just trying to poach an egg here. Three eggs, to be exact.

In a stroke of fortune, she said she’d enjoy a poached egg with an English muffin.

I can do that, I thought. I’ll just eat two eggs instead of three. And I can make English muffins. Breakfast as usual, only less so. 

The eggs turned out perfect, yet again, as always.

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