An Idiot's Tale

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An Idiot's Tale

Cacography of a madcap story teller, JAYEETA GHORAI

It’s official now. I’m schizophrenic.

According to a recent survey, that is.

All for the love of that gorgeous oodly buttery…egg!

On all occasions of high and low and every mood in between, for as many times a day till my metabolism doesn’t start protesting, in whichever form, I can eat them. My tongue waters at the thought of runny yolks and the aroma of bhurji, the deep fried Indianised scramble.

Poached. Sunny side up. Sunny side badly flipped. Soft boiled. Soufflé-d. Scotched. In dire straits even hard boiled ones and omlettes. In egg drop soup and egg mixed Maggie. In omlette curries and good ole dim-er jhol. As an addition to biriyani and tikka masala-s. Finely diced into potato mash. Thinly sliced as sandwich filling. Inside rolled paratha-s. Whipped dipping for French toast. Kneaded into noodle dough. Delectable puddings and custard. Fluffy loaves and cream layered cakes.

My vegan loving friends would be horrified with this mass murder. I’m well aware my gluttonous impulses keep a horrendously unethical poultry industry in business, but a poor mortal – a greedy sensualist to boot – needs some kind of soul sustenance.

If any one item can be singled out as favourite from my daily widening platter – which seems to go hand-in-hand with some other not so agreeable widening-s – this has got to be it! Rising in the dark, sleep walking to the fridge, rubbing heavy eyelids and discovering those oblong goodies in the door crate, gives quite another dimension to wake up call.

In a study conducted by Mindlab International on behest of British Egg Industry Council, people’s egg eating preferences were mapped to their personalities. Statistical analysis of mined data could come up with more conjectures, like social classes, bed room habits (eww, now why would I want to tell you that) relationship patterns and, hold your horses, star signs!

Scramble lovers are supposedly secretive and reserved. Boiled egg enthusiasm could indicate a messy and disorganized personality. A love for fried eggs was connected to a higher sex drive (really?) Poached egg fans were found generally more outgoing and happy-go-lucky. Omlettes are preferred by those that are self-disciplined.

No information was forthcoming on egg benedicts, soufflés or egg drops, possibly because, the study was conducted in the UK and maybe denizens of that geography don’t fancy these preparations.

Going over the list, I’d somewhat agree with the last find – I’m not the biggest fan of omlettes and discipline. If that inference matches, I might have to hesitantly admit that the others would, too.

Since I love eggs in all forms, well, alas, what can I say…the mental health bill doesn’t look so clean.

I was a sickly infant with poor appetite. Family stories go around of my parents’ sufferance to fatten me up, supported by photographs of this really skinny child. Why did they bother?! Inspections of the life-size bedroom mirror these days make me lament their waist-ed effort. I have no memory of this but have been told, I was made to drink infusions of eggnog, raw egg beaten into warm milk, as a child.

What I do recollect however is the early love for viscous yolks. Sunday and vacation mornings were given to leisurely breakfasts. My favourite were these lightly fried sunny side ups, or the rare poach – this involves a more complex process than the result looks – speckled with fresh ground peppercorn and salt, gently melting off the heat, served on a delicate porcelain saucer. The usual accompaniment was buttered toast, finely coated with sugar, which with time, and my ebbing sweet tooth, has been converted to the same generous salt-and-pepper dusting.

Most of us only relate taste buds with eating. But epicurean experiences comprise the entire five-fold sensation. The scent, appearance, feel on our fingers for those of us who eat with our hands and even the kitchen noises of our favourite dish being prepared adds to our hunger. Memory is able to hold more than the succulent flavours on the tongue.

I can vividly remember scrapping off the last morsel of gooey yolk, the steel teaspoon chasing after that final hint of yellow on the white porcelain. Not a drop of this heavenly goodness was to be wasted. Even today, as I start preparing for an egg fry, that after taste, the sticky savouriness as my tongue works around it raises anticipation in every part of my being. Depending on my mood, I’d simply break the shells over sizzling butter in a pan, or dice and slice an elaborate colour palette of greens, oranges and reds.

The beauty of an egg is it complies with every degree of patience. It fills a craving, without calling for too much fuss, yet can be as dressy as your fastidious tastes desire.

My mood, with age, has attained this icicle thin brittleness. While the nucleus has grown more reflective and resigned, there is one part of my brain which switches planes with impatient speed. Eggs compliment this restiveness well, being delicate beings themselves.

So while my palate has swung from one choice to another, eggs have emerged as the life-long companion. Is the memory of food for its sensory fulfillment alone? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Associations of those relaxed breakfasts, the unctuous spillage of orange-yellow across the plate, the last scrap of tongue pleasure is automatic with dad bringing it out from the kitchen. The softness of boiled, fried and poached eggs requires a certain temperament, the ability to wait tolerantly for the right moment and scurry into action when optimal temperature is reached. Underdoing an egg is an art; only dad had the disposition to get it perfect.

As I work absorbed on the chopping board and gas top, the shells easily breaking is a constant reminder of the fragile recklessness of life. So lap up, mi lady, as lustily while you still can.




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