“Here in Ankh-Morpork I often hear talk of some kind of proper nutrition. But those who speak are the majoritymen. I have nothing against the Muscovites. On the contrary. But they can’t cook. To do what today is called cuisine in a modern way is possible.” (Terry Prachett – Old Ogg’s Cookbook)
I had to go to the hospital for a checkup. You know it. Mostly. If the reader does not know the ritual of regular visits to a specialist doctor, it will probably be a person of a younger age or not a woman. In addition, a person of a certain age knows that for some time our natives have met more doctors than people in their lives.
The posh hospital I arrived at then has a large parking lot. Crowded cars from modest older Škodas to modern Octavia, “Copper” and “Bavarian” wreckers and the like.
The modern building twenty years ago still looks impressive. In recent times, toilet paper for the toilet and schedules for when it is cleaned, flashing signs telling where to go, air conditioning in the corridors and also signs on some entrance doors: “Only for EU” have taken up residence inside. That’s stuff, huh?
Such a Ukrainian, if he came to this posh hospital in Prague, would have to feel like a black man during apartheid in front of the “Only for White” signs. Elsewhere, however, there are doors with signs saying that even those who are not with us in the EU can go there. Behind the door it’s actually the same everywhere, but behind the other door you usually pay in cash.
After entering the building, I walk past the uniformed service, blink next to the stall full of colorful magazines, pass the ATM and the drinks machine (they also have bio-drinks here), and enter the hospital ward. You can’t call it anything else. In some things, that socialism sticks to us like a tick. And this is just a real bummer, there’s nothing you can do about it.
I’m hungry. I didn’t have enough lunch. So I’m just jumping on something small. What do they have here? Well, there would be a salad, a French salad in mayonnaise, a cabbage salad in mayonnaise, some sausages, then rolls, they have a Czech Turk with log or an American disgusting instant coffee, cola and the foreign one, according to the slogan “Coca cola Pepsi, maj’ iu us in the village” and so on. I feel right at home.
The right diet for a person who regularly visits the department of cardiology and heart surgery. Who could resist the delicacies on offer? No one. And if anyone resists, they are out of luck, they will go hungry. They have nothing else. Also some cookies, “shoši”, as our friend’s granddaughter says. And so I have a salad and rolls and eat traditional Czech food with a modern plastic spoon.
I observe the advancing line of doctors and nurses who order the ham rolls in aspic, another time a 30 deka salad, Mrs. Jarmilka, please have a tray and three rolls, thank you and more and I dive into the memories.
And if we are in the hospital, what else but the hospital? And when I eat, of course about food. In hospital. That was the first time I sat for a thorough inspection of the organ in which love is said to reside. In a different hospital, but also quite nice, and he was talking to the nurse before the associate professor came back. Word gave word, my sister once worked at a racing center in a factory, I worked in Vysočany, we were complete soul mates. Words flowed easily and conversations were carried on. I crumpled up a promotional brochure in my hand, what I could eat and what I couldn’t, and between us, the offer didn’t contain treats. It looked more like a menu for elephants and chickens. All grains, legumes, vegetables and such.
Sniff, sniff I suddenly caught wind, because a delicious air was blowing through the old vaulted premises of the dignified university hospital. That is, the smell. Which is not very common in hospitals. We both sniffed and I tentatively uttered the sentence, “It looks like a fried egg. On bacon.’
“You’re wrong,” said the nurse. No my sister! Medical. “That’s not bacon, that’s real bacon.”
“Here?! Bacon!? And fried eggs?! In the heart ward? What kind of lunatic can do that here? How can no one stop him?!’
“Well, he won’t ban it,” said the nurse with dignity, “he can’t.”
“I’d be surprised if someone couldn’t stop this torture of the poor bastards!”
“Well, it’s really not possible,” said the nurse. “Vona, our associate professor, gives herself those eggs every day at noon. He fries them nicely, makes fun of them, and then goes to explain to patients that they should fight cholesterol, eat healthily and get in shape.”
“Has anyone killed her yet?” I wanted to know. “And anyway, isn’t the associate professor afraid that she herself will die of cholesterol?”
“Well, no one would dare to kill her, she’s a well-known expert,” replied the nurse. “And as for the cholesterol,” she hissed hatefully, “that chick has cholesterol like a baby’s… whrrr,” she finished with a gritted snarl.
The door opened.
“Oh, good day, docent,” we both exclaimed in unison and cheerfully and helpfully, when the dignified doctor entered and with her an even greater smell of fried eggs. I swallowed like Pavlov’s dog. My sister was the same way.
“So, Mr. Wolf, we’ll have to do something about it,” said the docent seriously and discreetly wiped a piece of roll with a salt crystal from the corner of her lips. “We’ll start with the diet. I see you already have the specialist booklet in your hand, read it and follow the dietary guidelines. You are already middle-aged, you need to take care of your lifestyle, don’t neglect anything, no animal fats, limit salting and don’t eat eggs at all! And you will read more…”
The associate professor was evidently completely unaware of the smell of fried bacon and eggs wafting around her. The smell brought directly tangible images to us: first sliced bacon, how glassy on the bottom of a pan, and then an egg appears. An egg with a white shell, like fallen snow, the hand grabs it and taps it on the edge of the pan… Because with ox eggs, you have to, I repeat, you have to tap the egg on the edge, the shell cracks slightly, we grab the egg in both hands and break it . Between the half-opened shells, we look inside this still-virgin egg, the secret of which no one has yet seen, and we let it slide to the bottom of the pan.
The cool and moist, slippery and caressing mass of the egg slides down the hot fat and opens, and lies like a bride on a wedding bed. The hand, as soon as the albumen begins to lose its transparency and pales like a young girl after a long night with a lover, reappears above the swirling inferno of boiling fat and gently, as when a baby is placed in its cradle, places several slices of thinly sliced onion, which begins immediately slightly drooping on the sides of their cute crescents.
And another waft of divine fragrance crept under the door. Ah! I just am
in his mind he saw the dove’s whiteness lightly on the red-hot fat of the fried egg white. And inside that yellow eye of the yolk, that ox eye, how it taps so lightly and has a shiny crust… The smell of fried bacon, how the clouds of scattered ambrosia fly through the air, I can almost see those delicious balls of bacon fat swirling and flying through the air and they enter my nostrils. A brilliant symphony of a light whiff of fresh egg odor is complemented by the distinctly intoxicating smell of a baked crispy roll… Damn, I’m supposed to be on a DIET! And what did the patient hit the psychiatrist with an ax for recently?
When the assistant professor came back in a daze, she pressed the recipe into my hand and we made another appointment. Fortunately, the next check-up was for the morning, and the damned woman will hopefully no longer stuff herself with fried eggs or I would really hurt her. If I had to sit in the waiting room first, and I have nothing against waiting rooms in general, but when I have to wait in them, it bothers me a little, so to be honest, I HATE them and the irritating smell would waft from the hospital kitchen again, so I would he probably couldn’t last. I would break the door of the emergency kitchen, burst in, and when I saw the docent, enraged and tortured by the denied pleasures, I would pounce on her and… and… eat her fried eggs. I would give her!
Václav Vlk st
If you are interested in the story and the recipes, I still have the last few pieces in stock for you at an exceptional price. You can order at [email protected]
Price 100 CZK + 70 CZK postage if you pay in advance. Cash on delivery 100 CZK + 120 CZK postage. Unfortunately, the post office overcharged us.