Universal Eggs Benedict
Ingredients: 2 eggs (poached), hollandaise sauce (egg yolk, butter, lemons), English muffin, bacon slices, and something extra to enlarge the whole.
Eggs, when you really think about them, are bizarro. Little pockets of pre-embryonic fluid. If you were a universe struggling to be born, would you choose to arrive in the form of an egg, like Hiranyagarbha? And do we not do the unpardonable, when we consume them? Treat universes as consumables, excise from them their spiritual essence and make them mundane?
Of course, eating can be viewed as an act of reuniting with the larger self. We are what we eat. So consuming universes could make us larger, return the vastness to our interior spaces where it belongs. Which is right, then — are they ordinary or mythic? Can we have our eggs, and eat them, too?
Now that we are onto the subject of universes, how would one go about poaching one? Who would crack the egg, and drop in the moist insides, and into what boiling liquid? Are we gods, midwives, or merely cooks?
And what of the sauce? The egg yolk, which holds it together, unctuous and consistent. So different from a heavy roux, for example, where the fat, and the flour, does the thickening. The butter, so necessary to bind in the lemon juice, engendering stability. Giving the sauce its tartness in the midst of such creamy richness. Touch it, and it clings to your fingertip. A universe of opposites, in just the right blend – life-in-the-making. Notoriously temperamental to make, though. The conditions have to be just right. What does this tell us about universes? Are their turbulent beginnings the necessary mixing? And is the temperature just right? They say that if our universe had been made only slightly differently, it might not have supported life at all.
Let us put these questions aside for a moment, clearing space on our kitchen counter for the benedictines. Just a name, you say? Mr. Benedict, perhaps, or is it Commodore? So why not the monks, the Benedictine Order? Gratuitous association, or fortuitous? Is not a universe a certain kind of ordering? And like the Benedictines, are not real universes also aggregates of autonomous collectives, not single entities? They may be ordered, but they defy simple rule-making efforts. Following recipes is an art, not a science.
Ah, but any kind of cooking kills the life within. Eggs Benedict is therefore a stillborn universe. Perhaps a good thing, if we remember the warning in Yeats. No Second Coming required. After all, we want the centre to hold, at least for a while! Although the muffin helps when the egg finally falls apart; it soaks up the runny fluid. And let us not forget the bacon strips! More murdered selves. Oh la la! Life and death all in one little sandwich. But so delicious!
We just need to scrape around in the bottom of the grocery delivery box for that extra ingredient. Eggs, lemons, butter — a bit soft but it should still serve. English muffins, in their plastic wrapping. Bacon strips, still frozen. Where is it? Better to find it by feel. Ah, finally. One medium-sized universe, still moist to the touch, waiting to be born.