When Mamá was pregnant with me, she ate huevos rancheros for breakfast, lunch, dinner and as snack for every meal she could. She jokes that my love of eggs is from this time in Mexico City.
Today I think about either breaking raw eggs over warm white rice drizzled with soy sauce and mixing them with natto. Or soft scrambling some over low heat, or frying one sunny side up like in a greasy spoon.
I remember my Chilean Grandpa “Opi” who ate his soft boiled, nestled in a ceramic painted holder, greeting them in glee: “off with their heads”, driving a knife into their shell. Tea instead of coffee served with soldiers buttered, dipped and drunken yellow while overlooking the “la Cordillera de los Andes” - that snow tipped peak enjoyed from his breakfast table.
Daniel Patterson, the Michelin-starred chef of San Francisco, surprises by whipping his eggs into boiling water, filtering the mess thru a sieve , an attempt to impress but just ending in over-complication. Still a valuable lesson that eggs provide the binder for endless surprise and experiment.
Making mayonnaise by hand, snapping oil into slow egg yolks, MSG powder added because I don’t buy into the propaganda and have a dream of recreating the perfection of Kewpie. Also, never succumbing to the fear surrounding eggs and cholesterol I think that no more complete food exists. Eggs - perfect in flavor and sustenance.
During the pandemic, neighbors built elaborate chicken runs, only to soon forget them. North Shore Preppers selling quail eggs in the dozen, also to become overwhelmed by the replicating demands of hatcheries and competition…
I find fowl eggs nestled in my little garden, leaving them untouched for feathered hen mothers I realize instead they serve an introduction to the harsh reality of nature - my daughter watching in awe one morning as feral cats eat the unhatched spotted orbs.
Thinking of turtles on the way to the North Shore, slowing traffic , laying their kin deep in the sand, remembering the past where these too would be valued for food though now treasured in other ways… Driving H1 you can find pickled eggs, 1000 year old Chinese eggs blackened and purple in Chinatown, or Moon eggs, rich black in salt or other mysteries. At side street inns Loco Moco, plate lunches, eggs crowning a blanket of brown gravy hiding juicy hamburgers over steaming rice. Supposedly invented in the 1950s in Hilo, Hawaii as grub for two demanding teenagers.. The name reportedly used "loco" (Spanish for "crazy") and "moco" (Spanish for "snot") humorously to describe the dish's unconventional appearance. Humor aside the dish so perfectly captures Hawaiian comfort food and indulgence. You can end in Waikiki at a bar serving deviled eggs with hints of cumin and curry powder, a woman serves them to you in a South African accent over drinks, the sun still never sets on the empire, you think.
Your mind jumps to Kolkata, where soft boiled eggs are served in yellow sauces, hints of tamarind and coriander, over soft plump rice; eaten and rolled into morsels with the right hand, never the left. To Scotch eggs rolled in meat, a reward fried and served along warm beer in cozy fireplace setting.
Sitting on a fence, throwing themselves against wall - Humpty Dumpty took a great fall.
"The chickens lay eggs and the eggs hatch into other chickens, which then lay more eggs. Is this any way to live a life? But in the end, that's not the question, is it?” Murakami asks reflecting on the cycle of life that the egg represent in his novel a Wild Sheep Chase that equally bewilders.
McDonald’s McMuffin. Fried eggs sandwiched, world wide soft power. Egg Slut in Los Angeles serving 100s of their fancy versions to pilgrims lining up for hours at Grand Central Market. Had them once during a jet lag adventure at 6am, going right when they opened. Luscious, bedded in mizuna and rocket. A surprising snap. Added to pizza, or to a crab louie salad, an egg yolk too binds the joy that carbonara sauce brings worldwide. Black pepper and salt though are all one needs to shine their riches.
Dashi Tamago, rectangular folded creations made with considerable technique; beaten with sugar, mirin, sake, dashi laced with kombu… You try sometimes with friends who have these copper pans to make them, failing but laughing holding long chopsticks pressing your mistakes between grated daikon and soy sauce.
You dream of onsen tamago, hot spring eggs, taking you back to that time you worked in a restaurant, peeling hundreds, bathed in ice baths post soft boil to make them easier to shell. Standing again about to break a pair into a bowl you think back to that scene in Tampopo, that perfect Juzo Itami film about food, the gangster and his main squeeze in a moon beam passing a raw egg between french open kisses - the fragile yet profound nature of their affair pronounced.
Some like them divoriciados, or mixto or just blended into smoothies barely valued. I sadden for those allergic to their essence.
“What, you egg” Macbeth’s hired assassin’s ask, equally befuddling as I break open an egg with a drip of blood, I wonder, do I still eat this? Break a shell too by accident you poke thru the yolk and leave it for a calcium crunch in a lazy movement….
Balut, fertilized eggs from the Philippines, a delicacy that even most adventurous pirate can never learn to appreciate. Fish eggs, caviar, served on sourdough bread with heaps of salted butter. Babies love them popping the ocean between each moment of joy. Try them together, ikurapink over a dollop of sour cream, poached eggs. A luxury that will surely impress.
Why does the US refrigerate eggs where the rest of the world does not? Bought freely, in a small cute tray of six, a dozen or trays of 18 or more. You try to buy local eggs, in Japan small photos of the chicken who laid them next to a farmer you remember. These are a little smaller and finer than the commercial, they are the dream of an egg made real.
In Santa Fe, Christmas colored sauces dazzle the eyes. Green and red blending. Mestizaje or cosmopolitan? Never to be squandered.
Deep orange bright yolk eggs in Spain, my daughter eating the whites cooked heavy in rich olive oil with white bread dipped happy. Memories and life between following up sips of Cola Cao.
We start life and continue as souls enclosed as fragile eggs, dividing and growing we too must take care of our shell.
I think of loves current and past, mornings beating the start of the day. Long shirts as pajamas, french coffee pressed, served in bed on a tray or without… yolks set in the morning sun.
Still today I’m however most loyal to my huevos rancheros - nothing better. Dipped tortillas, yolks brimming the blanket sea of soft red, gratitude to the lord Buddha for now this moment is joy.
Recipe for Huevos Rancheros
- Two fried eggs how you like.
- Spoon warm black beans around the eggs in that same skillet. Add red salsa over the eggs leaving the yolks uncovered.
- Dish with day-old, lightly buttered and browned corn tortillas
- Avocado sliced, sour cream, cotija cheese, cilantro and salsa macha on top.
- Coffee or fresh juice, love on the side.