Eggs. The rain is making me think of you. It makes me want you, actually, even more than I always have and always will — for every breakfast that I’m almost never awake early enough to actually enjoy, for luncheons that everyone agrees can and should be the biggest meal of the day, for easy dinners, and especially for all those odd hours in between all three when I’m not supposed to eat but want to anyway. I turn to you at all sorts of odd hours and you never disappoint.
Of late, and maybe because he knows how I cannot get enough of you, Richard has taken to serving you in little egg cups, with a delicate little spoon by the side, and just salt and pepper to taste. Everybody calls that particular side of you malasado, which means neither here nor there, and you are delicious that way. After having learned the secret while in transit at the airport (of all places), Richard keeps you rolling constantly and almost reverently in a pot of very hot water, for about 10 minutes, and by the time you are all ready we just have to tap your shell gently all around at the top and crack you open. We are then rewarded with this beautiful, slippery, runny mess — a deep and bright yellow pool streaked with innocent white — but hey, you taste far from that. Innocent, I mean. As a matter of fact, in that state you are at your sexiest best. Or so I think. We scrape every centimeter of the sides of your delicate shell and you are perfect just the way you are.
Do you know that I remember you being a happy part of my childhood? Lola Apyang (who was Daddy’s nanny) would break you open to plop over Maggi noodles to make it taste even more special and whenYaya Ning and Yaya Ba felt that we did not like the food that was served for one reason or the other, a version of you would be enough to save the day and our appetite. You are part of a tender memory, too, you know. As a college student studying and living in Cebu with Lola Carmen, I woke up soaked in sweat while nursing the flu to find her seated by my side, holding a white bowl in one hand and a spoon in the other. Inside the bowl in your softly-boiled splendor you trembled beautifully with every little movement, shards of freshly-torn sliced bread mixed in. I washed you down — oh simple and happy meal — with a glass of Royal Tru-Orange after which Lola Caren prayed over me with a smile on her thin, red lips. She said that was pretty much all I needed to make me feel much better right away and, as usual, she was right.
You’ve been a dependable friend in every baking foray, whether they turned out good or bad, and I’ve been called the best mom-that-can-actually-cook in the world by my impressionable little girl back when she was at that age when the truth and nothing but the truth would come out of her lips. I say that because, at her age now, she knows the politics of being nice and tactful and she is more inclined to call my cooking (or my attempts) stellar, even if they are not quite so. She is, I suspect, a better cook than I am. Anyway, at the time she said that she was hungry, or more like craving something to eat in the dead of the night; so, not wanting to disappoint, I threw together a foolproof combination — white rice, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, a very little splash of Knorr seasoning, and two of you, of course. In that order. What turns up is like a risotto of sorts, much simpler to make, but just as happy, I’d like to say. Especially for the simple taste buds of children. Of course I am no real cook by any measure but if in her little world I am, I shall not complain one bit. Just a few nights back after a heavy training session in fencing with her coach, she wanted that again and when I asked if it was good, she closed her eyes for emphasis, with a resounding “mmmmmmmm” to boot.
But before Juliana, I had ample practice with my brothers and their playmates as guinea pigs. Meriendatime during summer afternoons, I’d sauté garlic with butter in a pan and tip over cups of cooked white rice into it soon as the duo became friends and turned fragrant. Then I’d put some protein in — either long slices of Spam, slivers of leftover roast chicken, sliced sausages, tuna — after which I’d break several of you open to kind of hold everything together so it does not become as buhaghag as fried rice is meant to be. I’ve made no secret of the fact that you are the star of that concoction and I’ll say it again now, many, many years from that time I first knew: you are the star.
You still are my favorite sandwich, and I have had you simply mixed with mayonnaise in a mush, on sliced bread, and later when I became oriented in the wonderful world of delis with tomatoes, cheese and a little mustard mixed in for some kick. Of course the turning point of my actually enjoying my first salad (I never liked salads as a child) happened because I watched the waiter prepare right by our table a Ceasar dressing from scratch. There was lots of you in that potion, and I remember thinking to myself how can anything with you in it ever taste bad? So I bravely tried a forkful, and have not looked back since.
I’ve survived diets because of you, and though I cannot quite figure out whether you’re bad or good for the health (medical opinions vary every so often, you know), I do know doubtlessly that I really, really like you. More than just a little. I was told to eat two of you every day while I was pregnant, which I happily did, and I want you to know that your mere presence has the power to make vegetables more desirable than they actually are.
So whether you are salted, or centuries old, soft-boiled or hard, scrambled or neatly plopped on any plate sunny side up, know that you make my meals rock. I’m always happy to meet you, in every cake, sandwich, cookie, or soup, sweet or savory dish there is.
And today, of all days, I thank the rain for reminding me of you.
Contemplative Outreach Phil. is giving an Introductory Retreat on Centering Prayer on Aug. 31 to
Sept. 2, 2012 at St. Joseph Marello retreat house in Tagaytay City. For reservations/info, pls. call the COP Secretariat at 501- 5231 or call Anna at 842-0211 or 788-7660.
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