Breakfast #54: Scrambled Eggs

Zen enthusiasts say that we need to live in the moment more.  Focus on the present.  Shut out extraneous noise.  Feel the air on your skin.  We are always rushing around.  We need to stop, live, exist, feel the right now.

I am no expert on Zen, nor on meditation, but I do appreciate the benefits of hitting the pause button and just…being.  Looking back, I think I enjoyed it long before I even thought to articulate it.

Take for instance my bath.  Or, more accurately, my shower.  That’s my pause button.  When I shut the rest of the world out and focus on nothing more than, well, bathing.  I don’t have a fancy bath, nor do I crave one.  All my bathrooms have been relatively small and my past hides a long trail of unused bath gels and special shampoos forgotten.  What I need in a bath is simple: A strong shower (no gentle rain showers for me, I need something that can beat 16 hours of work off my back), scalding water, and, preferable, a window that lets in a little sunshine.  Hot water melting away my worries, striking me with enough strength to burst into a halo of tiny diamonds shining in the sunlight – in these moments I think of nothing else but the moment.  And suddenly, for a while at least, everything in right in the world.

These eggs?  Will make you believe it.

Scrambled Eggs
(adapted from How to Make Better Scrambled Eggs by Ruth Reichl for Gilt Taste) 
  • 2 eggs, the best you can find or afford
  • 2 tablespoons butter, I may have put more (most probably), cut into bits (the best butter you can find or afford)
  • Fine sea salt

- Break the two eggs in a bowl and mix them well with a fork.  Add sea salt and mix to incorporate.
- Pour the eggs into a small saucepan.  Place the saucepan over a low flame.  Start stirring your eggs (I use a wooden spatula), adding the butter slowly, bit by bit.
- Keep stirring and adding the butter bit by bit.  The eggs will start to thicken. You can add more butter, I won't tell. Just keep stirring until you reach a soft velvety consistency.
- Transfer immediately to a plate and enjoy without disturbance.

I piled the eggs onto a warm piece of pan de sal (a local bread traditionally baked in a brick, wood-burning oven) I had just bought at the market, but it would be equally good on its own or with your preferred toast.  No more though as you don’t want to detract too much from these incredible eggs.

Good things come to those who wait, and this dish is a prime example of that.  Keep stirring.  Keep the heat low.  Add the butter slowly, lazily.  Do not rush.  Keep stirring.  Do not worry that you should have used your non-stick skillet and, oh, how the eggs might stick.  Do not answer the phone, toast your bread, or get the milk out of the fridge.  Keep stirring.  Stir gently but make sure that you are scraping the bottom of the pan and getting to all the sides.  It’s a bit like making custard.  Keep stirring.  Focus on the eggs.  Live in this moment.  It’s scrambled egg Zen.

Then you taste it.  And I don’t really know if this totally devastates your Zen or drives you deeper into it, but it does something so intense that even the first time you (I) saw Daniel Craig pales in comparison.  In my book, that means just beyond criminally intense.  You lose yourself and find yourself all at once.  And suddenly, for a while at least, everything is right in the world.  Yes, eggs can do that if done rightly.  And if you let them.

It’s amazing how losing ourselves in such simple moments can make us feel richly rewarded.  Maybe the Zen enthusiasts really do have something going there.  Or maybe we could just all use a pause button…preferably one that involves butter.