One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same any place in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear. — Dave Brubeck

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Poached Egg Koan

In memory of Blue Bell. You, kitty, were a joy.

On the joys of looking for a slotted spoon in a really well equipped kitchen.

One morning I got up in an empty house where I had been charged with looking after a very smart cat, and decided to poach two eggs. Simple.

Of course everyone knows that you need a slotted spoon to achieve the pinnacle of poached eggs, slots or holes spaced just right to release the water and save all the luscious strands of lightly cooked egg white. 

So I began my search....

Everything is perfectly ordered. All the pot holders are clean and neatly arranged by size and usage. Ah, I hadn’t found the right drawer.

Then I looked again in three drawers where I’d looked for a coffee filter that I didn’t find. And didn’t need

Then I discovered sauce pans sorted by size and use, but got distracted by the perfect action of the high end closing slides--they completed the shutting motion so smoothly and silently that I suspected black magic. But it was more likely that they represented a long process of industrial design, lots of trial and error, lots of user feedback, many hours exploring the physics of metal to metal resistance smoothed by precise bearings. 

Then too many choices, 14 wooden spoons mixed in with plastic spatulas, but alas, none with slots. Another drawer! Ah pay dirt! A drawer just for spoons, so many choices! A spoon for every occasion. What could go wrong? But perhaps it was just that my eyesight has dimmed and I could not distinguish any slots in the lot. 

But the boiling water had almost finished its job. I had to act now. So I grabbed a metal spoon, and just drained the water out by tipping it against the side of the pan. Some salt and pepper. Perfect.

Yesterday I was trying to explain to a Tibetan monk why I loved koan practice. An impossible task. Capturing words to describe the experience is as easy as making arrows collide in midair or describing the first time feeling sand slip through your fingers though you’ve felt it a million times!

But it could be just the fun of searching through a well stocked kitchen and finally tasting a well-cooked poached egg.


  1. So many detours possible along the way. Coffee, Industrial dedign. Press on, press on!

  2. Loved the appreciation of the industrial design of the drawer slides. All that work and exploration of how this is... and can be - is magic... our remarkable human magic.


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