friday feast: “eggs satori” by karen greenbaum-maya

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“Breakfast Piece” by Herbert Badham (1936)

During these trying times, each of us finds a way to cope. The response I’m hearing most often from my author and illustrator friends is, “Make Something Beautiful.”

The simple act of creating something new is not only life affirming — it affords the creator the calm that comes with total immersion in a project. Writers often talk about “being in flow,” when you lose all sense of time and place, and the only thing that matters is the work.

I liken “being in flow” with mindfulness. When we are fully present there is no worry over future events or regret about the past.

Of course one need not be an “artist” to reap the benefits of this practice. As we move through our days, we can choose to live each moment as fully as possible, whether we are painting a picture or washing the dishes.

I’ve found that baking is especially therapeutic. I like the scientific accuracy of measurement, of scooping out flour and leveling it with my butter knife. I like the rhythmic chopping of nuts, scraping batter around the edges of my mixing bowl with my favorite spatula, seeing ingredients come together to make something delicious.

And I like the zen of cooking eggs as described in Karen Greenbaum-Maya’s beautiful recipe poem. It is reassuring to hear the gentle voice, to slow down and appreciate each step in the process.

Today I’m grateful for the little world of this poem, feasting mindfully, this healing moment.

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“Still Life with Eggs and Pottery” by Pat Hardy via Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

EGGS SATORI
by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

Take an egg for each eater,
another for the pan.
The eggshells should be opaque,
too bright to look at if white, freckled matte if brown.
Crack the eggs into a generous bowl.
Use your entire arm, wrist hand forearm shoulder as one.
Achieve a decisive snap that strikes the shell cleanly
at the bowl’s edge.
Empty each eggshell of its little world.

Heat the frying pan, only just enough
to melt a lump of butter the size of a nut, any nut.
Float the pan off the stove.
While the pan cools, whisk the eggs
as mildly as wind ruffles grass.
No bubbles. No froth. A slosh of cream does no harm.
Pockets of egg white will bob to the surface.
Accept this. Add salt.

When you can pat the underside of the pan
as you would pat a friend’s shoulder,
return the pan to a gentle heat.
Quietly, pour in the beaten eggs. Now, leave them.
Chop some fresh tarragon, or a small ripe tomato.
Bring this to your eggs.

Let them all get acquainted in their own time.
Drag a fork languidly through the eggs,
where a small buffer is starting to thicken.
Let your lungs fill and subside without effort. Release the breath.

Gently tour the rest of the pan.
Drag the fork around the edge again.
Now the eggs will start to yield large curds.
Observe this without urgency. Low heat. No bubbles.
Bring drifts of egg to the center,
slowly enough to feel their mute resistance
to the pull of the fork. So slight, the weight.
If curds break into pieces, you are working too hard.
You have been dragged off-center.
Stop. Get over yourself.
Let the eggs cook alone for a moment.
Honor how little they require from you.

Gather the eggs together at the center of the pan.
Coax them to turn over. Turn off the flame.
Gaze around the kitchen a moment,
take the pan from the burner.
Divide the billowy mass into portions and serve.
Eat your eggs in small voluptuous bites. Do not speak.

~ from Feast: Poetry & Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner, edited by Diane Goettel and Anneli Matheson (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). Posted by permission of the author.

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Karen Greenbaum-Maya:  I don’t practice Zen, but I do value it. The inspiration for the poem is a piece of MFK Fisher about how scrambled eggs, angrily made, can hurt a marriage, but scrambled eggs, made quietly and responsively, benefit everyone involved.

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Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist, former German major, two-time Pushcart nominee and occasional photographer. She started cooking at six in self-defense. She has developed professional recipes. For five years, she reviewed restaurants for the Claremont Courier, sometimes in heroic couplets, sometimes in anapest, sometimes imitating Hemingway. Her photos and poems appear in anthologies and in journals such as Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Off the Coast, Blue Lyra, Measure, and Heron Tree. Her poems have received Special Merit and Honorable Mention in Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial poetry contest. She co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song, a collection of prose poems, and Eggs Satori. Aldrich Press publishes her full-length collection, The Book of Knots and their Untying, which can also be purchased on Amazon. For links to work on-line, visit her blog, Clouds Like Mountains.

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  🍩 GILMORE GIRLS COOKBOOK WINNER! 🍩

Nice to hear from so many diehard Gilmore Girls fans this past week. Truth be told, Monsieur Random Integer Generator is also a big fan. He claims to be Michel’s distant cousin, admires Emily’s fine taste in decor, and has always championed Jess’s rebellious streak.

This time, it was easy convincing M. Generator to help us pick a winner, but not before he had consumed 36 gallons of Luke’s coffee, 145 dozen donuts, 120 pizzas, and 75 dozen frosted  Pop-Tarts. While roller skating backwards with Hep Alien blasting in the background, M. Generator ever-so-skillfully reached into his dapper tophat and picked:

 ♥ ROBYN HOOD BLACK!!

👏 👏 👏 HUZZAH HUZZAH HUZZAH!!! 🍕 🍕🍕

🎉 CONGRATULATIONS, ROBYN!  🎉

Please send along your snail mail address so we can get your prize out to you lickety split.

Thanks, everyone, for all the great comments. Hope you enjoyed (or are still enjoying) the Netflix Revival!!

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poetry fridayThe lovely and talented Bridget Magee is hosting the Roundup at Wee Words for Wee Ones. Float over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Will you be making scrambled eggs this weekend? 🙂

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wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

55 thoughts on “friday feast: “eggs satori” by karen greenbaum-maya

  1. ah ha! How did you know I was on the hunt for recipe poems? I wrote one not too long ago and it needs some “proofing” shall I say. I need some mentor texts to look at … and this is perfect. Again, you delight me with your thoughts and words. Thanks for this. I’m posting this blog entry to one of my pinterest boards. Have a great week..

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  2. That last line…that’s what I need to train my brain to be willing to do, at least from time to time. Thanks for sharing this poem today, Jama – and reminding me to practice mindfulness.

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  3. I have taken my time today being ‘in the flow” with Christmas, and slowly reading and savoring the posts, then placing and enjoying old favorite decorations. I have nowhere to be until the evening and it’s been a delightful day. Your post reminds me of talking with my daughter over scrambled eggs. She actually makes them better than I do, more patience, like this loving poem. Thank you, Jama, like always! Love “Empty each eggshell of its little world.”

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  4. Oh my–what a delightful treatise on cooking eggs! I especially love the line: Empty each eggshell of its little world. They are an entire world, aren’t they? And, in the non-sequiter department, so glad to see the Kellogg corn flakes on your page.

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  5. The lump of butter, the slosh of cream, the slowness of the process. So many ordinary actions in life could be improved by this level of Zen.

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  6. I especially like, “Let them all get acquainted in their own time.” and “Honor how little they require from you.” It’s like she knows us and how we hover too much. xo

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  7. What a lovely poem. It relaxed me just to read it while I pictured myself cooking eggs on a lazy weekend morning. Ahhhhh. Beautiful art too.

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  8. I love the peace and generosity of this poem, Jama. My grandmother made the best scrambled eggs, so the fact that this poem reminds me of her makes it even more wonderful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  9. Late to visit this weekend, Jama, but it was worth the effort to come around…I made scrambled eggs with spinach this morning, in a hurry, and they fed me but reading this I know they fed me In A Hurry. Maybe that’s why by 5pm I really needed a glass of wine. : ) As always, your post is beautiful in many ways.

    It’s Stone Soup time in Room 203, so *Dumpling Soup* will be on the menu too! Wish my copy was signed by YOU!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Heidi — you have many more chances to enjoy “not-in-a-hurry” scrambled eggs. 🙂 NIce to hear DS will be on your menu!!

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  10. I have several academic publications on the concept of flow among artists – I am so enamoured by that notion and that wondrous state of being – glad to see it here today, Jama. 🙂 Looking forward to finding The Book of Knots – and by my tribe as well (clinical psychologist)! Woohoo!

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