Thursday, December 17, 2009
Soft Boiled Eggs and Divine Love
As mentioned in the previous post, I have been working on our family Christmas menu. After a late night, and lots of goodies, Christmas morning is a simpler affair. For the past few years I have made a breakfast "strudel", a puff pastry filled with ham, eggs, hash browns, onion, green pepper and Parmesan cheese. It is a favorite recipe from Cuisine at Home, and I like it because it can be made ahead. However, my kids are making some new requests this year, so the morning menu has gone through a bit of tweaking. For starters, my kids love soft-boiled eggs and "soldiers". Now, before I go any further, I need to explain a bit of my culinary heritage. My grandmother was Scottish by birth and raised in England. My grandfather was the son of a Lebanese immigrant, stationed in Blackpool, England during World War II. The end result, my mother was born in England, and at the age of two traveled to the US with my grandmother on the Queen Mary along with many other war brides brought back by President Truman. I remember my grandmother telling me stories about how my grandaddy got in good with her family by bringing them extra sugar rations (he was a cook). And as a British immigrant, after 50 years of living in America, you didn't dare insult my grandma by suggesting there was still a hint of a British accent. So, I have a nice mix of middle-eastern and English cooking that has made its way into my life. This is the reason that tabbouleh is a traditional Thanksgiving dish in my home, old fashioned chicken rice soup should always have a dash of cinnamon, and Cornish meat pasties were a childhood favorite. It is also the reason I have a deep fondness for soft-boiled eggs. There is something very English about soft-boiled eggs; the little egg cups, the timer, the tap,tap,tap as you carefully "knock off the head", the golden yellow yolk as it spills out the sides when a piece of toast is plunged deep into the egg, and the final scrape of the spoon inside the egg, hard enough to get every last bit of white out, but not so hard as to break the eggshell. I spent years trying to find proper egg cups, and have now managed to put together a respectable collection. The best part of soft-boiled eggs though was the toast. Proper English toast must be toasted, lightly buttered, then sliced into thin strips, ready for dipping into that yummy egg yolk. It is a treat that was saved for an overnight visit to Grandma's house, and it was a treat that defies explanation. So, it is with great joy that I watch my children, two of whom never got the chance to meet my Grandmother, as they enjoy this experience; to relive those moments through them as they tap, tap, tap on their egg, as they smile with delight dipping those strips of toast into the yolk, and as they scrape out that last bit of white. Funny how food has such an emotional tie for us, and yet, it makes perfect sense. After all, the first sin was choosing food over God, and God in His wisdom has provided us with ultimate communion with Him through food. Metropolitan Anthony Bloom in his book Beginning to Pray states that all food is divine love made edible. There is something very meaningful about a meal made with love, and the importance of those little traditions that we so often don't even recognize as traditions. I did not start this post with the intention of ending it this way, it was supposed to be a practical post with recipes and a little bit about me. Instead, it has become a story I am happy to share, because in sharing it helps me remember, even that which seems so mundane, the boiling of an egg, can make a lifelong impact if done with love. Guess I will save the recipes for the next post.