David poaches his eggs. He won’t buy eggs out—too pedestrian a meal to spend money on—but that’s how he cooks them. He knows other ways: fried, sunny-side-up, scrambled, dippy, hard-boiled. For the longest time, those were the only ways. Wasn’t till thirty years ago, when cafés started popping up, that poached eggs became a thing. David was furious. He barged home, talking about foreign eggs from Europe, and how these cheese-eating surrender monkeys had gone and changed eggs.
“You don’t even like eggs, you silly old goat.” Becky was peeling potatoes, giggling to herself over the sink.
“You’re an old goat,” he grumbled back.
“Well, I think it’s exciting,” Becky said. “All this new food. Feels like the world’s heading towards us.”
The conversation carried on some two weeks, all the way to dinner at Stacey and Jack’s. Jack owned a factory that made plastic joinery and Stacey fucked the Tillmans’ twenty-year-old son, if rumours were to be believed.
“You’d both love India,” Jack said. “It’s like another planet. Honestly, I found myself thinking that, in another lifetime, I must have been Indian. That’s how connected I was to the place.”
Imagine that. Dinner with the Mahatma.
Stacey broke in: “Of course, as a woman, you have to be quite careful, Becky. But as long as you don’t go wandering the streets by yourself, you’re absolutely fine.” Scrunching her nose, baring her perfect teeth and fiddling with her hooped earrings, she continued, “It’s off to Europe in August. Jack’s promised there’ll be no business. Strictly vacationing.”
You should’ve seen Becky light up.
“Oh, I would love to go to Europe. Honestly, I’d give an eye for it. David won’t even fork out for poached eggs—Oh, I’m just kidding! Don’t get grumpy.”
Becky rubbed David’s forearm—a lifelong method of placating him, necessary because of a lifelong tendency to bully him—“Look at his little face. He gets so grumpy when I tease him.”
He wasn’t grumpy, actually. Well, he was, but only after Becky said he was grumpy. He hadn’t been grumpy before that.
“Why would anyone pay for eggs?” he asked, grumpily.
Lying in bed that night, and after hours of arguing with himself, David conceded: Fine. If Becky wanted poached eggs, he’d give her poached eggs.
The next morning, he researched how to poach an egg, and on the Saturday he surprised Becky with (you guessed it) poached eggs.
They were horrible.
He did exactly as the cookbook instructed him: three minutes in the water, the vinegar, the vortex, all that jazz. Where he went wrong, they both supposed, was in spirit.
He tried again on Sunday. He had music going: Peter Sarstedt. He cooked shirtless, didn’t shave, smoked a cigarette, anything he thought was vaguely European. The eggs were vaguely better.
The next week, he read A Moveable Feast and purchased a French press. Come Saturday, he made fresh coffee, talked of Paris in the 20s, had Peter Sarstedt going, and Becky in the kitchen with him. They laughed and danced and the eggs were fucking fantastic.
From then on, he made poached eggs every weekend. He’d set the apartment to feel like Europe—which to David just looked like France—and for a couple of hours every weekend, that’s where they were; they were in France. They talked of moving to Juan-les-Pins, dreamt of eating dinner at 9pm with glasses of Bordeaux, of their children going to The Sorbonne. They smoked cigarettes and drank before noon and, with both of Becky’s feet on top of both of David’s, they waltzed through the hallways of their two-bedder; through Boulevard Saint-Michel. David promised Becky that if he ever got the money, he’d take her to France. They’d spend all summer there. Not travelling, but living. He meant that. When he said it, he meant it. He really did.
Now they got new ways of cooking eggs. His grandchildren show him videos, hanging on for the moment he delights them with a geriatric response. There are these Asian omelette things; beaten eggs spun around a wok until they form a perfect oval. Ends up looking like a sun-coloured pearl, about the size of your palm. They put them on a bed of rice. Rice!
Well, you can forget it if you think David’s going to start making Asian eggs. He doesn’t even like eggs. It was Becky who liked eggs.