In 8th grade, I learned in Ms. Boman’s science class that cooking an egg is an example of an irreversible reaction. This means that a cooked egg can never be turned back into a raw egg. I began to write a post relating cooking eggs to irreversible change in my life, but it quickly became an exercise in exposing my stupidity.
First, a team of researchers headed by Prof. Gregory Weiss at UC Irvine unfortunately found a way to magically uncook an egg in 2015, by untangling and refolding its proteins. With eggs suddenly becoming reversible metaphors, I was left with Ms. Boman’s other example of an irreversible reaction, combustion, which hopefully no one will experience in the kitchen trying this recipe out.
Second, I found out that my inspiration for this blog, Aruna D’Souza of Kitchen Flânerie, had already written a brilliant piece about eggs and irreversible leaps of faith. She recounts her personal experiences of childbirth and reflects on the irreversibility of marriages in past generations. How could I top that? Written in 2013, an era before Weissian egg-unboiling, I peer jealously into this time-capsule and reminisce for a simpler time.
Third, I couldn’t think of a single decision in my life that was truly irreversible. My decisions are surprisingly (to me, unsurprisingly to most) all conveniently reversible. Clearly, I have never given birth. I changed majors five times. I moved from San Diego to Williams to Cambridge on the basis of “academic fit” and “shifting life goals”. I study music with no clearly-defined trajectory. I can afford financially and emotionally to take time off to reset my internal feng shui.
Reversibility is a privilege provided to me by my parents, mentors, peers, race, gender, and class. They provided me with the protein disentanglement and folding technologies that were not available a generation earlier. Like any angsty, fù èrdài, “artistic” person in their early 20s writing a blog, it’s easy for me to lament online about fearing irreversibility, but I should probably just chill out.
Tangled Protein Bowl (Egg Custard)
feeds 1 angsty, angsty boy
2 large eggs
1 cup water, or broth
0.25 tbsp salt, to taste (reduce salt if using broth)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
scallion, cilantro, pickled veggies, etc. to top
1. Whisk two eggs in 0.25 pint water or broth vigorously in a porcelain bowl. Skim off froth. Add salt and stir gently to combine.
2. Assemble your postmodern found-object art installation of a steamer. Add water to the lowest layer, and bring to a boil. Place bowl with egg mixture in the top layer, and cover with a small porcelain plate. Cover steamer.
3. Steam for 15-20 minutes, adjusting cooking time according to your steamer. Accept the fact that you have not permanently cooked the egg and surrender yourself to accelerationist phantasmagoria.
4. Carefully remove bowl and let rest for 3-5 minutes. During this time, attempt to untangle your life but realize that this requires supervision by a team of elite chemistry researchers at UC Irvine.
5. Add soy sauce and sesame oil slowly as not to break the surface of the custard. Since I lack tact and body awareness, I pour soy sauce and sesame oil first into a separate bowl and gently spoon the mixture onto the custard. Add optional toppings.
R. Schumann – Märchenbilder (Fairy Tale Pictures), Op. 113: I. Nicht schnell
performed by Jodi Levitz and Eric Zivian