The Way a Person Does One Thing is the Way They Do Everything: Eggs by Lindsey Danis

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When you crack eggs, is the yolk whole or runny, is it yellow like buttercups, yellow like an Easter dress, or is it gold instead? Is the white jelly-thick, the shell farm-fresh and freckled with chicken shit and feathers? How do you crack eggs? When you separate eggs, do you do it like your mother showed you back when you were a girl who wore dresses, and if it wasn’t your mother who showed you, then who taught you about eggs? How do you separate the white from the yolk, and for what purpose? In culinary school, we were slow to separate our eggs into plastic measuring cups. We talked while we worked, marveling at the one-in-one-thousand strangeness of double yolks. We thought we knew eggs; we knew nothing. At the university cafe, my first job, I cracked flats of eggs into large metal pitchers, eighty or ninety at a time. The grumpy baker told me to take one in each hand and smash them together lightly–one egg would crack the other. He sighed as he pulled eggshells out of my pitcher, but he was always sighing over something so I didn’t pay him any mind. At the Irish bar, I cracked my eggs slowly, slowly, and always right before I ran upstairs to the stove to boil cream for whiskey-flavored custard. I was a ghost in a grey basement, but I was still  sure it would get better than this. In downtown Boston, however I cracked eggs wasn’t good enough. I was supposed to crack them open with one hand, then pour egg into the other and cradle soft yellow yolk while white slipped through the sieve of my fingers. My hands did a one-two waltz, but left never trusted right. At the California bakery, we were instructed to lay a dozen boxes of eggs across the metal table, their flaps interlocking. We had to break six at a time into a bowl and scoop out yolks with one hand. The whites were dumped into buckets, where they became someone else’s project. Overlooking Ferry Plaza, I crack my eggs with a sheet of parchment paper laid underneath a 30-count flat, one egg in each hand. One sharp rap and I pull open the shell with my thumb and pinky. Deposit the spent shell in the flat, pass the second egg to my left hand, reach underneath with my right for another egg, and in between find time to rap, crack, slip. If you are not sure, bits of shell will go everywhere and you will have to chase them up the bowl with your pointer finger. So I sway, letting hands lead body in an unobserved and holy egg dance. I am sure, I am sure, I am sure.


Lindsey Danis is a Hudson Valley-based writer and Creative Nonfiction editor of Atlas and Alice. Lindsey’s writing has appeared in AFAR, Longreads, and Condé Nast Traveler, among other places.

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