Sunday, December 27, 2015

Important Life Skill




For some reason I always refused to ever look up how to poach an egg. I guess because of its simplicity — how hard could it be? For years I believed the trick to be threefold: a teaspoon of vinegar, a swirling vortex and a portion of luck. Then one morning I accidentally turned off the wrong burner which reduced my pot of boiling water to a simmer, which made all the difference. I dropped the egg in and it formed perfectly. No vinegar or luck required. It still helps to make a swirl though and the little pre-boil trick mentioned in this video is a good one.

I maintain that the design process is a bit like perfectly poaching an egg. Everyone thinks it's easy and they can do it until they try it and inevitably screw it up. Design, like the poached egg, takes a soft touch, some slight of hand, experience, knowledge, a lot of energy and most critically, timing. Knowing when it's done is a skill in its own right. For chefs, the egg itself is a myriad of quandaries and complexities that takes skill and time to master (despite the now fool proof sous vide technique). Of course, people who don't understand the metaphor are probably people who don't understand metaphors. That's a problem for another day.

By the way, whenever I'm in St. John's and I poach an egg, my mother insists I use the 50-year old aluminum poacher — I used it once and the eggs stuck to the metal and tasted more of aluminum than egg. The bigger challenge in this kitchen has been the absence of a slotted spoon. How does a kitchen with a junk drawer full of all manner of tortuous looking pieces of equipment not have a slotted spoon? It's a true kitchen mystery.

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