I remember The Mothership buying me a stack of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books when I was small; she taught me to read at an early age and I was a voracious reader, so to keep me from unleashing my bored and destructive self on the house she kept me sedated with a steady stream of books and so I got to devour, amongst others, Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows, Animal Farm, The Plague Dogs, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Callanish and Enid Blyton’s Circus Days Again, her Famous Five series, her Six Cousins books and her slightly less enjoyable Secret Seven series.
One of the things that captivated me when reading about The Famous Five is that at some point in the middle of their adventures they would always find the time to have an outdoors packed lunch (food always seeming to taste better outdoors), whether it was one they had thrown together in haste or a hamper carefully prepared by a cook or housekeeper, and besides the oft repeated catchphrase of the Five sitting down to enjoy “lashings of ginger beer,” Enid Blyton would go into great detail describing how the children would tuck into hard boiled eggs eaten with a little accompanying dish of salt.
I can’t tell you how captivated I became with the apparent enjoyment the Five had when eating their eggy lunch because, you see, I am weirdly picky when it comes to eggs and am simply unable to eat the white of an egg on its own in its cooked state. If I whisk it into a meringue, or mix it up with yolk into an omelette or a batch of scrambled eggs, I’ll be able to chow down without hesitation; but if I cook a fried egg or prepare boiled egg and soldiers with the consequent substantial white egg presence, then my meal becomes a surgical operation as I extract all the yolk I can while trying to avoid the egg white from contaminating my cutlery.
I promise by Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan that I’m not being a diva about this, but I really cannot tolerate the taste, the consistency or the smell of cooked egg white, I cannot stand to feel a little piece of trembling, jellied egg white on my tongue or between my teeth.
It all dates back to the time before we moved to our hamlet and still lived in a town very close to The Mothership’s family, and my Burmese Nana used to kindly babysit me during the day while The Mothership was off working hard to keep a roof over our heads. Being the oldest grandchild on The Mothership’s side of the family, and at that period in time the only grandchild in existence, gave my Nana lots of opportunities to practice how to best look after her current and future wards.
My Nana felt that a growing child needed goodness, and what could possibly be more good for a child than an egg, so my Nana would break an egg into a glass dish and lightly, oh so lightly whisk…in effect swirl the yolk around in the clear, gloopy albumen, barely mixing the two together, and would then put the glass dish on top of her stove and heat for a few minutes. The resulting meal of egg would then be put in front of me with a flourish, accompanied by the command to “Eat it all up so that I grow up big and strong.” How many vile foods have been tricked down the throats of children using that same compulsory instruction and reassurance.
I would then look down into the glass dish and see a barely congealed sea of yolky soup dotted with small, tiny islands of barely cooked egg white. I loved my Nana and therefore would always be a good girl and finish my food off, but that flavour blend of strongly tasting and underdone egg whites backed by a hint of half raw golden yolk deliciousness stayed with me and haunted my maturing taste buds, resulting in my being unable to stand the taste of egg white as time passed.
My Nana and I did enjoy a very therapeutic conversation a couple of years ago during which I confessed to her that she was the reason why I was such an annoyingly picky eater when it came to eggs. I think she laughed, with tears running down her face, for over 10 minutes. Not quite the healing response I was hoping for, but at least we both got a giggle out of it.
So here as I am as an adult unable to enjoy the simple pleasure of a boiled egg rubbed in salt. Am I bitter towards my Nana? No. Do I resent her cooking methods? No. She did what she had to in order to ensure her growing granddaughter was filled with goodness, and I will probably force any blood-related children passed into my care to eat a whole range of vegetable dishes in my attempt to ensure that they get enough vitamins to fuel them into adulthood. I just find myself unable to walk past a deviled egg without bursting into tears of regret.