Ham and Eggs

Columns | Vienna Review | June 2011

Cooking is not for everyone. And especially not for those who like to keep the stove on 0, because this is the only way to be sure there is ZERO chance of burning down the house. How do I know? Oh well.

As hopeless as some (of us) may be in the kitchen, everyone likes to have their time to play at being the best chef in the world. Under one condition, of course: No witnesses. Once this has been double-checked, the show can begin.

Pan, butter, eggs, ham and cheese. And the stove on 3: Here of course, you’re marching into a danger zone. Watching the butter melt on the warmed up surface is easy enough; it becomes a bit of a challenge, however, when it turns out to be melting way faster than expected. Panic Level: Stage 1 and escalating, when you then realize that you don’t have the cheese ready, or that you haven’t sliced the ham.

Already seriously concerned, you start frantically to unpack both ham and cheese at the same time, without paying much attention to the pan to your side. Too bad, because the smoke and stench have already begun billowing up from the sizzling pan, bringing you to Stage 2 of your panic attack. And it does.

You reach for the ingredients and almost throw them into the pan in an attempt to put the ‘fire’ out. Instead, the hot surface explodes at the contact with the cold ham and cheese. This must be normal, you tell yourself, and try to pull yourself together.

And then it strikes you: Ham and eggs are not really the same without…you know, the eggs. In a split second, you take as many as you possibly can, crack them on the edge of the pan and spill onto the rest of the ingredients. You see a piece or two of the shell coming together with the cheese, but no way are you going to try to take it out. It’s terrifying enough just to look at it.

You turn the stove back to 0, and hope the pan will be hot enough to bring your mixture to an edible level. You can’t risk the smoke to spread to your neighbors’ place; we said, "No witnesses", after all. You lean back against the wall, and let your eyes linger over the now quietly sizzling pile of ingredients.

Truth be told, we don’t all need to have our time in the kitchen.

- Mina Nacheva

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