The Perfect Poach


Francis sang a little song to it (the egg on her plate), she sang it very softly:

I do not like the way you slide,
I do not like your soft inside,
I do not like you lots of ways
I could do for many days,
without eggs.

Bread And Jam For Francis by Russell Hoban


by Ales Steger

When you kill it at the edge of the pan, you don’t notice
That the egg grows an eye in death.

It is so small, it doesn’t satisfy
Even the most modest morning appetite.

But it already watches, already stares at your world.
What are its horizons, whose glassy eyed perspectives?

Does it see time, which moves carelessly through space?
Eyeballs, eyeballs, cracked shells, chaos or order?

Big questions for such a little eye at such an early hour.
And you – do you really want an answer?

When you sit down, eye to eye, behind a table,
You blind it soon enough with a crust of bread.

As a notoriously picky eater as a child, my Mother wore out our copy of Bread and Jam for Francis hoping its inspirational message about expanding your food horizons would rub off on me. I had a firm dislike of eggs until I was about 10, until I realized, I liked fried eggs a bit on the runny side, and after that pretty much any kind of egg became a part of my regular repertoire in cooking for myself.

The one egg style that generally has Americans and fair to middling chefs stumped are poached eggs.  There are lots of resources to help you master that craft and the tricks are pretty simple: strain your egg in a fine colander to get rid of the really watery yoke, add vinegar and salt to your water and don’t over do it on temperature, a hard boil not the thing for the perfect poached egg.

But my father taught me a much simpler way to perfect the poached egg. Take a very small round sauce pan that has a lid – 6 inches and put into it either fresh salsa or a can of crushed tomatoes in a layer about 1/2 inch deep. Bring it up to heat, add a little fresh basil if you have it on hand, get rid of a little water by boiling it off. Then lower the heat and make four little nests with a spoon. Crack your eggs and drop them into the nests one at a time, poach with lid on for 3 minutes on low heat. Spoon out egg with a little of the tomato sauce and serve with cracked black pepper or a sprinkle of bread crumbs.  Yum!

Here’s a culinary tip for the perfect poached egg using traditional techniques:

Either way, make sure you serve it with plenty of toast and jam.


Jam on biscuits, jam on toast,
Jam is the thing I like the most.
Jam is sticky, jam is sweet,
Jam is tasty, jam’s a treat,
Raspberry, strawberry, gooseberry
I’m very,


Bread and Jam For Francis by Russell Hoban




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A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

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