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When I was a little girl my mother made me a poached egg for breakfast several times a week. It wasn't my favorite because most of the time the yolk wasn't done enough to suit me, and no matter how my mother tried to disguise the runny yolk by spreading it around the toast, it was never very appetizing.
Mimi, my name for my mom, would make a great show of cutting the egg and toast. Each time she'd recite:

"East, West, North, South
Now pop this into your little mouth."

Long after I was quite grown she would tell the story of the last morning she ever prepared a poached egg for me. Following the above recitation, I said to her:

"You can cuttee uppee
But I won't eatee."

Ever after I had a boiled six-minute egg. Once in a while on a Sunday morning, my mother made an omelet but never again a poached egg on toast.

I didn't poach eggs for my children because their favorite breakfast was a boiled egg in a cup with toast broken up and mixed in or scrambled eggs with Parmesan cheese; although they also loved pancakes and French toast as well.

And so it was with surprise and some delight when we were at our friend Jane's house for brunch recently she served an elegant open-faced toasted sandwich piled with greens, bacon and topped with a poached egg.

She had used those little silicone egg-poachers that one can find in a kitchen specialty store. You spray them, drop in the egg and set the little critters afloat in a pan of simmering water. The eggs were done perfectly, and then and there I determined to give it a try at home.

After purchasing my own set of poachers, the morning came when I took out a pan, filled it with water, which I brought to a gentle boil, and launched my egg-laden silicone boats. The instructions said to "cover pan with a lid and simmer four to six minutes — depending on degree of doneness desired."

The problems began when I harked back to the poached eggs of my childhood. I thought, I never saw my mother use a lid on her pan — she basted the hot water up onto the egg with a spatula until the egg was white on top. Then she scooped them up, onto the toast, and the "cuttee-uppee" began.

Instead of leaving well enough alone, I took off the pan lid and began basting a la Mimi. Nothing appeared to change — the yolk stayed bright yellow and was sort of swimming in the water I'd basted over it. I was so cross I picked the cup out of the water and upended the entire egg into the dog's dish.

What is wrong with me and poached eggs? I'm either stupid, stubborn, never wanted a poached egg in the first place or too old to cope with something as new as a silicone egg-poacher. Come to think of it, the friend at whose house I had the delicious brunch is the same age I am; she has gorgeous white hair and has the skill to cook a poached egg — or anything — properly.

Next time I really want one of those little suckers, I'll call Jane.

Mary Lou Fuller

Mary Lou Fuller is the author of a collection of anecdotes that reflect her views on aging with humor.

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