Culinary Terms | Teen Ink

Culinary Terms

January 26, 2009
By Ian Spiegel - Blum BRONZE, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Ian Spiegel - Blum BRONZE, Virginia Beach, Virginia
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

"This is how you hard boil eggs. You put water in a bowl. A lot of water. So that they're submerged. Then you put salt in the pot. I'll tell you why in a minute. Now, where are the eggs?"

"Right there, dad. You passed them."



"Oh, right. Now you put salt in the pot. Why do you put salt in the pot? Because it’s easier to break the shells off when they're done. What do you want to do with these anyway?"

"My chef salad. I told you."

"Oh, right. Your chef salad. Who are you making salad for?"

"Me. I didn't know if you were making any dinner tonight, so I thought I'd make some."


The eggs in the pot sizzle.


"Don't put your hand there! You're going to burn yourself!"

"I'm fine. How much longer?"

"A while."

"How long?"

"At least another eight minutes."

"How long in total? You know, in case I ever want to make them again sometime."

"Don't forget to put the salt in the water…"


"Eight minutes after they start boiling."

"Then what?"

"Well, do you want them cold?

"Of course I want them cold!"

"Then put them in the fridge. Shock them until they’re done. That's a culinary term.”


He picked up the salt and started to play with it.

"I lost my job today." His eyes were wet, but his lips didn't tremble. Thank god his lips didn't tremble.


"It happened this morning. I took the day off yesterday and when I went in today my boss called me into see him. I wasn't the only one. Cut backs. You know; the economy. But don't worry. I've got a few things in the works."

"Like what?"

"Well, Harvey, you remember Harvey, he said he's on the lookout. I've got a couple other feelers out there too, but I'm going to need to get access to the internet."

"Use Noah's computer. It's my laptop."

He opened the fridge and took out a can of beer.

"Once you shock them, put them in a water basin. We call that a wash. Remember--"

"I know! The salt."

"That's right. Whose been writing their name all over this food?"



"Because I bought it with my own money and it's mine."

"How much did it cost you?"

"56 dollars."

"You want fifty bucks? I'll give you fifty bucks!"

"No, you keep it. You need it more than I do. But I guess I won't be getting running shoes…"

He leaned against the counter, his hand on the beer.

"It's an economic business decision. And I'm ok with it. I'm fifty years old! That means I've got more experience in this business than most people around here. That mean's I've got wealth! Or worth, I should say."

"You know dad, this could be a very good thing. Maybe now you can finally get out of this place! Maybe now you and mom can move and get a better job like that one in Williamsburg. Think it's still available?"

"That's an hour away. I'd have to commute an hour. No, we're not moving. I want you to graduate and Noah to say in the same school. There are things that you don't understand, things you don't know. And you shouldn't have to.”

"That's ridiculous! I'll be in college in four months and Noah is only in sixth grade! What if they pay you more? What if--"

"Eggs are done."


"Here, watch. You take the eggs and you crack the shells. Then you roll them. Like this."

He did it once and pulled the shell off.

"Now you do it. I can't believe I've never shown you this before."

I took the eggs from him.

"Well…" Crack and roll. The egg split in half. "There are a lot of things you haven't shown me. It's always 'when you're older.'"

The yolk stared up at me.

"Yea…I've been busy."


He put water in a bowl.

"You know it's your mother and my anniversary today."

"No, I didn't."

I took the bowl from him, almost dropped it.

“I’m done.”

"No, you are not 'done.' That’s another culinary term. Eggs are 'done.' Humans are 'finished.'"

Then he grabbed my hand. "How do you think it feels to come home to your mother on our anniversary and tell her I don't have a job today?"

He took the eggs from me and put them in the fridge. He threw the shells in the garbage.

"They're still a little warm. Chill them and keep them in water. So they stay moist. Don't worry. You'll be ok, my son. You'll be ok."

The author's comments:
I tried to distill the relationship between the father and son down to the bare basics of language-- the language itself. I hope readers will be able to identify with the son and emphasize with the father and perhaps, upon further examination, learn something about themselves and their own relationships.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Feb. 27 2009 at 6:00 pm
a_bunch_of_nuns, Unknown, Wisconsin
0 articles 6 photos 78 comments
I liked how this story revolved almost around the eggs, how the father was (finally) teaching his son something; and how maybe it actually wasn't how to boil eggs at all. I do like the relationship between the two, how the father tells the son everything gently, and how they are confronted with eachothers' problems--even if the son doesn't completely understand.