I truly love cooking with my wife Renea, it’s a great thing we can do together and in the end enjoy what we have done with a great glass of wine. With 50(ish) cooking classes between both of us we found early on that we liked working together in most ways, especially cooking. When my wife became a sous chef I was not surprised, she’s talented (much more than I) and lives with what she loves.
What is surprising about my wife is that she hates eggs. She will eat eggs with breakfast but only if their done to within an inch of being destroyed. Preparing eggs is another matter, yolks and my wife do not mix, sometimes when they do cross paths my wife comes within another inch of losing last nights dinner. My wife is very olfactory so smells and texture mean as much to her as taste, and eggs are her kryptonite.
I love eating eggs and I learned from my grandfather when I was very young that the runnier they are the better. Breakfast for me is a couple of eggs and some salty breakfast meat all running together in a salty yolk soup. Soaked up with some potatoes and toast and my day is ready to be conquered. I catch my wife sitting further away from me on occasion while we enjoy a breakfast out on some weekend mornings, attempting to make the distance seem less obvious while she avoids looking at my plate. I love her more for the attempt.
Another surprise in my cooking journey is that I never learned how to make over easy or over medium eggs, so I usually hack it out to less than stellar results. I’ve tried methods that I thought made sense, but I’m always overcooking them or breaking them or some other cooking disaster that leaves them edible but looking like a decent egg that exploded into a scramble somewhere along the way.
A month ago, we found out that my mom had stage 4 brain and lung cancer. Always healthy and self sufficient we were surprised that at 72 she was diagnosed with a death sentence. After a brief stay at the hospital she bravely decided that hospice was the best fit for her and she came home. During hospice our family stayed with her day and night to help her through tough times and laugh with her during the really good moments we had left.
Mornings were part of my shift at my mothers house and I found out quickly that she loved her eggs over easy and she had to have bacon. Being my mothers son was my first lesson in cooking eggs. Having a wife that knows food so much better than I, the refrigerator was stocked with foods for every meal and seasonings that my mother had possibly never heard of, but I could not claim that I did not have everything necessary to provide eggs and bacon for my mothers remaining mornings.
Most mornings my mother could not get out of her bed, so I alone stood before a 1972 electric stove with a carton eggs, beautiful peppered bacon and time. I started by cooking the bacon first and using a small portion of the grease for the eggs. I tried a couple different non-stick pans my mother owned and alternated between cracking them directly into the hot pan or putting the eggs in a ramekin and seasoning before the pan. I tried no grease and just butter in the pan (the eventual winner).
As it turned out, I only had 3 weeks of practice before I would be left without my most difficult critic about how I cooked our eggs. Truth be told, my mother was really never much of a cook. I was raised with pasta, T.V. dinners, Taco Bell and Top Ramen. But in those three weeks I learned more about my mother, her bravery and how to make life choices while being strong in the face of overwhelming odds than I have in my other 49 years.
I also learned how to cook over easy eggs, learning it in the way my mother wanted it. Trying over and over, constantly failing, refining and trying again. Most importantly my mother and I learned it together while laughing over most of my attempts. My mother never really showed me a thing about eggs but she did what good mothers do, she let me fail and encouraged me try again tomorrow while laughing with me about the latest attempt.
My mother died 6 days ago in the early morning before I could make her eggs. A couple of days prior I had buttered a medium hot pan (not high heat), cracked a single egg (she was never very hungry in the final stages) in a ramekin and seasoned it (always do this, easier to place the egg where you want it and season it perfectly). When I gently flipped the egg for the briefest of moments and then returned it to its cooking side, it slid out humbly and perfectly cooked. I stood over it for a moment and smiled before preparing my own two eggs, which I accidentally drowned in seasoning due to a loose top on a Mrs. Dash seasoning bottle and my own excitement.
My eggs were horrible as I could not fish out all of the seasoning. My mothers egg sided with bacon was perfect, and she told me so. My lesson complete I now add perfect eggs to my resume. I also add witnessing a great mom teach her son life lessons even while struggling for her own life. Every future egg I make or eat will be with her in my mind and heart while once again I am reminded that it was not the egg that counted, it was the journey together. I love you Mom.