Excerpt from ‘Survival Lessons’ by Alice Hoffman

Excerpt from Alice Hoffman’s “Survival Lessons,” coming out in October from Algonquin .

Start by eating chocolate. In fact, if you can, eat whatever you want. Any time. Any place. Cook your dream dinner: lasagna, stuffed mushrooms, fried rice, devil’s food cake with mocha frosting, blueberry pie.

Take a cooking class. My son was in a class taught by the great Julia Child. He learned to make sublime eggs, poached, scrambled, coddled, and boiled. Here is the recipe for Julia’s hard-boiled egg. It’s simple, but most perfect things are.


Select a room-temperature egg.

Place in a pot of cold water.

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Bring to a boil. When at a full boil, cover and remove the pot from the burner.

Let stand covered for fourteen minutes.

Submerge egg into ice-cold water. Peel.


I don’t think Julia would mind me giving out her secret. She was a survivor. When we worked together raising funds at the hospital where we both had been treated, I instantly wished she was my best friend. Her warmth and compassion were legend. She didn’t want to talk about herself and was deeply interested in other people. She knew who she was, but she didn’t know who you were, and she wanted to. Frankly, she was more alive than people half her age. Everything was beautiful to her: an egg, a stranger’s life story, a battered cooking pot.

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