One of my fondest memories of my childhood is waking up to the smell of bacon cooking on a Sunday morning, I would lay in bed and listen to the sparrows chirp for food in the nest under my air conditioner in the windowsill. Listening closely I would just be able to make out the pop and hiss of the bacon. I would stay there enjoying the smell and the birds and sometimes go back to sleep until called down to eat.
I would get up and go downstairs to see my parents in the kitchen, old school style. My Dad would sit and drink tea and watch TV while Mom made the food, sometimes my Dad would help by setting the table and make the toast but Mom did the rest. We always had fried eggs because my Dad liked them best and I still remember how he taught me to break open my yoke and peel back the white layer like a surgeon to reveal the golden goodness inside. He would dip his bacon into the yoke and then into his ketchup and put it in his mouth sometimes sucking the egg off before biting the bacon, naturally I had to do it the same way and to this day I dip my bacon, the same way I also dip my toast into my coffee. I do that to help me remember my Grandmother who always did and it tastes good too, and like Anthony Bourdain; of No Reservations fame says. “Tastes and smells are my memories.” So I can easily identify with that statement, and I think most people can on some level.
But on the days I had off from school, whether it be summer vacation or a holiday recess, my Mom would make my favorite toast with peanut butter or cinnamon sugar toast with butter. Then there were times when she would insist on making me eggs, but not fried (which took a longer time to make and had to be perfect) instead she would make scrambled. This was just for us to enjoy together, a chance to have something different that we both liked.
This was the days of stainless steel frying pans with copper bottoms and hard plastic handles, no non-stick surfaces yet, they were a few years in the future. That is for us anyway, they were too pricey for Dad’s frugal mindedness. I remember that Mom would use real butter to lube up the pan and plenty of it too, I would sit and watch as she would hand mix the eggs in a bowl, beating them with a fork and making sure that all the white was mixed up, there was problems if any white was in my eggs! What a brat…oh well sorry Ma.
Mom would pour the egg into the pan and wait a little before tearing up a piece of American cheese and dot it all around the liquid eggs trying hard to make it even and then the magic would begin, taking a fork she would hold it on edge and scrape towards the center, using it like a plow piling it up like golden mounds of snow and tilting the pan to make the uncooked egg flow into the forks wake. This would be done until all the eggs were cooked but still moist and then they would be piled up on my plate. Wonderful pale golden mountains of goodness that were eaten with toast and butter and a glass of milk or a cup of tea. I eventually learned how to make scrambled eggs myself and sometimes now make them for my Mom, only now she insists on Egg Beaters instead of real eggs (which quite frankly give me gas…sorry for the indelicacy) and we use Smart Balance instead of real butter. Okay so times change but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have what you want, especially if your paying for it, which brings me to the yoke of this story and the event that led up to my deciding to write this piece.
I took my Mom to a local diner for lunch and after we had ordered and were sipping our coffee a couple walked in and sat directly behind me, Sal (not his real name) was a early fifties Tony Curtis type, loud and over confident. Becca (not her real name) was a late forties biker type in leather pants who never took off her hat, scarf, or jacket. The waitress came up and Becca ordered her food and this is what I heard. “What you like miss.” asked the waitress casually. “I would like scrambled eggs and lox, no potatoes, no toast. But I want the eggs fluffy, well done but not overcooked, moist but not underdone, and soft, I want them to be big and fluffy, I don’t want a small amount of eggs lost on a giant plate… How many eggs do you get when you order scrambled? she asked. “Usually about three, do you want four?” said the waitress. “No that would be too much, I just want them to look big and fluffy and soft that’s all but not overcooked.” she said loudly, in fact the whole order was done in a loud tone but not angry. Sal ordered a simple breakfast dish also health conscious and coffee, Becca I think ordered coffee too.
Now at first, me and Mom looked at each other like this girl was a space shot. I mean you had to hear how loud she was and I can’t even duplicate the actual conversation because I couldn’t write that fast even if I had pen and paper with me. So believe me when I tell you that the scrambled egg conversation went on for at least ten minutes! The whole order reminded me of the scene in “When Harry Met Sally” and the set of instructions the waitress got from Sally before the famous orgasm scene. The thing that I really regret now is that I didn’t see the egg order that arrived for Becca but you should have heard her, it must have been magnificent. She said out loud to the waitress “You Did Good!” and Sal was pleased for her too. The rest of the time we were there I listened (as any good writer/artist would) to the conversation, they both seemed divorced and also to be in related industries involving property and design. Yet even though they were in my opinion completely mismatched they apparently had some common ground that found them eating breakfast together after what I can only speculate was a night to remember.
But I will say that later after remembering the disappointing scrambled eggs that resembled chopped up omelete that I had received in diners many times, I realized later that Becca had a point in making the case for really good scrambled eggs, because after all eating out is really asking to be a child again. What do children want? They want their food to be good and made the way they like it by someone who cares. Then judging by her reaction to her eggs, someone did just that …and for her sake I’m glad. But there is a fine line between getting what you want and getting more than you bargained for, and I just hope they didn’t spit in her eggs for spite! Don’t say ugh and eww, she wanted them moist…right?
See you at brunch