Monday, February 20, 2012

Good Ol' Days of Yolk

The monotony has set in. Week after week I carefully plan a 10:30 am wake-up, for Sunday breakfast at my PG mess. But today was different,I did get up at 10:30, but something made me forgo breakfast. Later, I had a small bowl of muesli to keep up with the barrels of work that keep rolling ahead, taking my eyelids with them.

But Sundays aren't about muesli, even with candied fruit. They're about two eggs (as you like them) and toast and hastily spread Amul butter among sleepy faces in the PG mess, with greasy newspaper with Amul butter thickly spread. I happened to go without eggs, as I like them, this morning by some strange vociferation of will that I don't quite believe now. If I meet that nasty urge of will right now, I'd punch it till it chickens out.

For as long as I can remember, eggs have been my second fuzziest comfort food, and at most times just the best thing to trigger nostalgia. When I was very small, and despite my Dadiji's discomfort at my eating eggs and onions in the same meal, had grown fond of omelettes for breakfast it would take all of my mum's effort to keep me from having too many. Two a day and no more was the rule and rightly so, high protein is hard to digest and I have a troublesome stomach. It helped that omelettes can disguise the number of eggs and serve disillusionment beautifully with the size of the pan. My mum was probably very pleased I asked for seconds, even thirds for any form of food at all and she knew the feeling well, that of loving omlettes...

...because no one spins an omelette like my Naniji, my mother's mother. They're sinful, widely known, and are better at drawing you away from under the sheets, from the painfully organised archival chests of drawers or from the bookshelf at my Grandparents' home at Kanpur than anything else can. The.Smell.Of.Those,Omelettes. The simplest but best of everything goes into them and they go best with everything else.

Eggs taught me how to handle cutlery. It was mimicking my Nanaji, whose indifference at the table I'd irk by reaching out for my omelette with bare fingers, that I gave up a finer sensory experience for a fork and knife, (which being left handed I would prefer to keep switched but not anymore). The only time I'd raise my eyes from my plate of eggs was to watch Nanaji gulp his pills with tea before leaving for his clinic, it couldn't have been very hot tea, but every morning it was that one thing I wanted to excel at when I grow up. I wasn't on any medication myself but my aunt, who had just finished studying medicine would feed me digestive biscuits saying they were dog biscuits, but only if I behaved like a pooch for most of the day. Now I know this form of adult tactic as one-of-those-things-to-shut-kids-up.

It is over one of these summer vacations at Kanpur that I decided I had had enough of omelettes and I announced that I had to test my taste buds and the deftness of cutlery on fried eggs, runny side up. I had a sick sounding name for them that I cannot disclose. But that texture and colour was the delight of my seven year old life. It was a shocking change for the table from Naniji's omelettes, but there was a short hush and not much else against the sizzle of determination.

Then there are egg rolls,in Calcutta. I don't remember much of them from the 3 years that I spent there when I was very young. But my parents and brother have memories that pour out each time my mother makes egg rolls or egg paranthas at home. And since I happened to visit Calcutta very recently, I see exactly why the pleasure of having a piping hot egg roll on the pavement, in all its chat masala and butter paper splendor, would stay with one forever as a memory that you can't help but revisit. I think my mum mastered the art of them and someday I hope I do too. Or else there's little else I need to give me a reason to keep visiting Calcutta.

Well, I ping-ponged through all of childhood between omlettes, Spanish omelettes that got slightly ruined for me because of a bitter capsicum, and sunny sides (which was a phase and took far too long to eat) with bhurji now and then to add to the scramble.I even helped my mum make eggs.But in my early teens, when I decided to wander in the kitchen for longer than to ask my mother about a school assignment, I discovered the ease of boiling eggs and making egg salad sandwiches. My mum says that she let me take my time with kitchen tools to let me choose which hand they should go in. And soon after, I was addicted to my messy,drowned in ketchup, over-salted but all mine egg salad sandwich.

There's a certain memory of burnt fingers, calcite odour and care to keep the shell in halves that I attach with shelling boiled eggs. It's a lovely feeling that was sometimes paired with seeing the grey of a boiled yolk which was a fascinatingly distinct change from the yellow of cracking eggs. And cracking eggs if one is allowed, any child will tell you, is one of the most triumphant feelings. Shelling eggs also meant cooking egg-curry, that I discovered both my parents are absolutely amazing at and would never refuse to cook even  though it was a tiresome task compared to our quick TV dinner of bhurji.

And it has been so every time I have come home from college in my vacations. Except that now I am simply, utterly grateful to be eating eggs at home, in all shapes, colours and sizes. The thought of it makes me smile and the act of it is so fulfilling that I could be smothered cozy under a giant mother hen. I am as amazed as discovering that there are eggs for any meal at home as I was when I found out that an egg could even go into things that are sweet (this dates back to 1.When I first saw my Nani's divine chocolate cake being produced. 2. When papa was checking the packaging of a swiss role for the vegetarian green dot before we could serve it to my Dadi.). Eggs + home = the same feeling you get when you kill the last nasty squeaking red demon in a cave in Diablo II and the gold spills out of nowhere.

I am very very fond of eggs, it's my favourite form of poultry produce, yes, more than chicken. But now in college, I've met people who are far bigger egg lovers. I moaned and craved eggs during the bird flu but I don't remember complaining a whole lot. And I've met people allergic to eggs. Sundays however, remain the only time when egg lovers appear from all crooks and holes of our PGs and I see for myself the wonder of eggs that makes people rise a little earlier than they would've on a Sunday morning. I wouldn't miss it for the company either. Amid sleepy, happy faces at home or in the PG, amid people I know and love. That's how I like my eggs.

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