Wednesday Write-in #30: Eggs Florentine

Wednesday Write-in #30 @ CAKE.shortandsweet

Prompts: overdose ::  gloss over  ::  poach

EGGS FLORENTINE

Some people cook from instinct, seldom from recipe. Marienka’s mother was like that; if you gave her a recipe, she’d gloss over it once to get the idea before setting out in her own direction, rarely in vain. It could be Cornish hens with red cabbage and potatoes; salmon with homemade dill sauce; potato pancakes made from scratch and served with apple sauce and sour cream; or catfish slaughtered fresh and then breaded.

It didn’t matter.

Last year, the night before Marienka’s 18th birthday, she and her mother had sifted through photos and keepsakes like they always did on Marienka’s special day.

“And what for breakfast tomorrow, Marienka? It’s your day. I’ll make it special for you and me.”

“Eggs Florentine.”

“Eggs Florentine. Smaczny.”

This year, after digging out that same shoebox from the walk-in closet, Marienka came across her mother’s birth certificate tucked in between her photographs from elementary school.


certifikat
POLSKA RZECZPOSPOLITA LUDOWA

Województwo: podkarpackie

Urząd stanu cywilnego w Rzeszowie

Nr. 45 / 1950  Rzeszówdnia 02 maja 1950

Odpis zupełny aktu urodzenia

I. DANE DOTYCZĄCE DZIECKA

1. Nazwisko: Ossadnikówna
2. Imię: Marika      3. Płeć: żeński
4. Data urodzenia: drugiego maja tysięcy dziewięćset pięćdziesiąt
5. Miejsce urodzenia: Rzeszów

II. DANE DOTYCZĄCE RODZICÓW

—                                             Ojciec                                   Matka

1. Nazwisko:                         Ossadnik                          Ossadnikowa
2. Imię:                                   Michal                                 Marika
3. Nazwisko rodowe:          Ossadnik                                Gulka


It was Marika’s original document, slightly tattered and faded and tucked amid keepsakes from her daughter’s childhood. Marienka felt the texture of the paper between her fingers, considered the years that had passed since its issue. She went to bed wondering what had become of her grandparents.

In the morning she went to the kitchen and began gathering ingredients on the cutting board–garlic, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, heavy cream, prosciutto–before stopping to look at the handwritten recipe that she had posted on the refrigerator with a magnet the night before.


Eggs Florentine

  1. Preheat oven to 400, spray baking sheet with cooking spray
  2. Single layer prosciutto on sheet and bake until crispy
  3. Remove prosciutto, cool completely, crumble
  4. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft
  5. Add minced garlic and cook until you smell it
  6. Add spinach and nutmeg and cook until the spinach is wilted
  7. Stir in heavy cream and bring mixture to simmer; cook until the mixture thickens slightly
  8. Remove pan from the heat, stir in cheese. Season with salt and pepper
  9. Fill small saucepan with 3 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon salt, lemon juice.
  10. Bring water to simmer over medium heat. Crack an egg in a small bowl (don’t break yolk!). Slide egg into the water and then carefully stir the water around the egg. Cook until white sets and the yolk is still soft. Remove the egg from the water and drain. Repeat with remaining eggs.
  11. Plate tomato slices and season with salt and pepper. Add spinach sauce over the tomato slices and then top with poached eggs. Sprinkle with crumbled prosciutto.

Marienka finished reading and left the recipe on the refrigerator. She put the water on the gas stove and turned the burner on high. She chopped and minced and sliced while she waited for the water to come to a boil.

She’d start with the eggs and figure out the rest as she went along.

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8 Comments

Filed under Featured Content, Flash Fiction, Wednesday Write-In, Writing

8 responses to “Wednesday Write-in #30: Eggs Florentine

  1. Patrick

    I’ve just learnt to never include a recipe and a Polish official document in anything I write. But a warm story and I wonder how the eggs turned out.

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  2. Elaine McKay

    I know that a number of people like the idea of combining food and writing but I find the recipe too long. I just don’t share that passion. However, I like the birth certificate and the subtext it offers.

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    • @Elaine

      Thank you for your honest feedback. I included the recipe to support the recipe subtext: Marienka’s mom only referenced such recipes and, just after the recipe, Marienka does the same. Yet I do understand your point of view, one I weighed when considering how to include the recipe in the story.

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  3. I also found the Polish section a bit bamboozling (I really should brush up my knowledge of languages!) but I thought the story overall was poignant. I take it she has lost her mother during the year that has passed? I wish I knew what you meant by ‘she wondered what had become of her grandparents’. I really liked the way you used the recipe as part of the story, and how she follows her mother’s footsteps in a quiet, but significant, way. The Polish section of the story takes away a little of the flow of the piece for me, but of course that might not apply to all readers. I think you’ve been very creative with your use of the prompts – I’ll admit I found them a challenge this week! – and they work really well for you.

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    • @SJ

      Thank you for the thoughtful feedback. As I noted in my response to Elaine, the Polish birth certificate is meant to add some background to the story, specifically Marienka’s mother (Marika). Although there is no disclaimer to let the reader know, there is no need to know Polish to understand the document’s relevance to the story (in my opinion, at least).

      With regard to the grandparents: As with any birth document, the names of Marika’s parents (Marienka’s grandparents) are listed on the document. That line, to me, opens another potential (and implied) subtext that the reader can think about.

      Again, thank you for reading and taking the time to leave me your thoughts.

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      • Great – I’m glad to know my linguistic ignorance hasn’t left me at a loss when reading your piece. I’d have hated to miss out on a vital piece of information! Even though I personally couldn’t understand the Polish birth certificate, it did add wonderful texture and realism to the story, and it’s certainly a technique I’ve never seen anywhere else. I really enjoyed your piece. Thank you for replying to my comment and clarifying the grandparents issue for me.

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  4. Elaine Peters

    I like the daughter taking over the family tradition regarding cooking, but all that Polish in the middle makes me wonder if I have missed something significant.

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    • @Elaine

      A valid concern, although it is meant to be a facsimile of an official document and therefore to do nothing more than add some background to the story. There is no need to know Polish to understand it’s relevance to the story.

      Thank you for the comment.

      Like

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