“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Not that it was a man who put us asunder. No, our sundering was caused by a perky redhead who moved in next door and always needed help with something. Leaky faucet? Oh don’t worry, Gavin will be right over with a wrench and a smile. Car won’t start? Not a problem, Gavin’s very handy under the hood. Furnace on the fritz? Never fear, Gavin’s just the man to get things heated up.
I open the cookbook and start gathering ingredients. Whip 12 egg whites and 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar until frothy. That’s one dozen eggs to be put asunder. I use my fingers, letting the white slip down into the bowl, leaving the glistening golden globes one at a time cradled in my hand. So easily done—what once was whole has now been twain.
The yolks get set aside. They’ll go into whatever tupperware I can find a lid for and into the fridge until—in theory—I figure out a use for them. In reality, they’ll get shuffled further and further back until I pull the container out weeks later, having forgotten what it contains, and hold my breath against the smell as I run them down the drain, discarded.
The liberated whites are destined for more exciting things. Once they’re frothy they get a cup of sugar, gradually poured in while whipping until glossy peaks form. A teaspoon of vanilla for flavour (it’s artificial, don’t tell). And now I must be ever so gentle, not crushing this fragile new marriage of egg whites and sugar—after all, it’s built itself up on air. I slowly fold in a cup of cake flour that’s been mixed with another half cup of sugar. The airy mixture threatens to deflate on contact with anything of substance. Softly now, don’t make it face anything too hard.
I spread the batter into a tube pan and place it in the oven for a long, slow 45 minutes at 165°C. Back to those abandoned yolks. I ponder flushing them away, putting their misery to a swift, merciful end, but alas, into the fridge they go to fester away. Why’s there never a recipe that calls for a dozen less-than-fresh egg yolks?
If I’ve done this right, after baked and rested three hours upside down on a bottle, I’ll have a tall, fluffy Angel Food with the flavour and texture of a sponge doused in Granny’s vanilla eau de toilette. That’s why it’s always served buried under berries and dollops of whipped cream. Outer trappings to hide the lack of substance or depth of flavour—that’s the ticket.
I’ll arrange the end result attractively on a plate and carry it next door. Hopefully my new neighbour won’t mind if I ask her husband to take a look at my lawnmower—I haven’t been able to get it started since Gavin left.
This piece was first published online by Leon Literary Review.