fiction about cooking

Short Story


As usual, she woke up at 7:30 after midnight, half an hour before me. She would usually pack an apple in a Ziploc bag, a plastic container with rice and roast chicken, prepped the night before and placed in the fridge, an entire box of cereal, a bear-shaped bottle of honey, a box with mixed tea bags and her thermos with freshly brewed peppermint tea. But the wind had changed direction; she had just done her nails, freshly highlighted her hair. Change was in the air. She had decided to have another of her favorite breakfasts — fried eggs, one of Picasso’s favorites.

She broke two eggs in the pan, discarded the shells in the garbage, and turned on the fire. The eggs started crying — first a little, then more and more — until she had to turn the fire down so their voices became moderate and ignorable. The oil boiled and they curled up into soft, white proteins with a runny, sunny center and crispy, browned bottoms. She liked them crispy but not over; one side crispy, so she never flipped them. When the sun solidified in the edges and the far frontier of the white clouds curled up crispy brown, she scraped them out onto a plate. Extracted two loaves of sweet, soft bread. Ate in front of the computer while reading the news of the world on a website in her native language.

She left for work at three to 8 a.m., slamming the door and waking me up three minutes prematurely. I breathe in the smell of burnt eggs and oil for three minutes until my alarm set to the tune of a barking dog lifts me to my feet. I stretch and drink two large cups of water. Open the window and put on my upside-down shoes, the ones I stole from a gym in California when I was visiting a violin maker to make a documentary about his craft. They are very tight shoes with solidly attached, large hooks on the back of each ankle. I grabbed my pull-up bar, lifted my lower body up, and hooked myself on the bar upside down.

I closed my eyes and waited a minute to adjust, then started my 15 minutes of upside-down, transcendental meditation. I last 16 minutes — which is a new personal record. I do not keep the time but, instead, let my senses tell me when to stop. I started with four minutes and over the past few months have worked my way up — up to a minute. Sixteen minutes. Too much blood accumulates in my head and I lose concentration. I lift myself up, grab the bar with my hand, and unhook the boots. I take them off, walk to the kitchen, and drink two more glasses of water.

My metabolism is asking me for eggs. The pan is already on the stove, used for the same purpose just a few minutes earlier. I open the fridge and take out two eggs, break them in the pan; not before I add a little more oil. I turn on the gas and the exhaust. The eggs started crying; nothing I haven’t seen before. In one corner of the pan, a piece of egg white from the previous batch has been left behind. I focus on it. I cannot take my eyes off of it. I even forgot to put water in the kettle for tea. The piece is perfectly round, already cooked to perfection — just having the bad luck to have escaped the scoop and be quickly burned out of its best shape. I watch it shrinking and curling its burnt edges. It doesn’t cry. It’s above that. It quietly takes the pain.

I flip my eggs and leave the unfortunate wheel as it is. The disk keeps shrinking and trembling like a leaf; the oil has no mercy as it slowly turns it dark and to the center. I take my eggs out and, finally — with great diligence — scoop the brown wheel out. I butter some bread and put it with the eggs on a plate. I put the burnt egg white on top as garnish.

I put on some pants and a shirt and sit down to eat breakfast. I start with the burnt wheel.

It’s crispy.



photograph by


The Writers Manifesto


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