My favourite memories of my dad are of him making me eggs.
Now I've always been very particular about my eggs. I don't like scrambled, which are almost always bland and cloying, fried eggs I can take or leave, poached eggs are so often wet and ugly. No, friends, I consider the boiled egg to be the most superior of eggs- my specifications being five minutes, soft boiled, hard white, runny yolk. Buttered toast on the side. A boiled egg is a thing of beauty, requiring nothing more than an obliging hen (FYI I do not consider a battery farmed hen obliging. Free range and organic is absolutely essential here) a pot of boiling water and a good sense of timing.
This, of course, was my father's greatest failing. I don't know what it was, but somehow when I was little, making me breakfast at the weekend was always assigned to him, and of course I always requested the boiled egg, and for reasons unfathomable he just couldn't get the timing quite right. My dad was never particularly the indulgent type, but something about this challenge drew him. Carton after carton of eggs would go in the bin, as he flailed with exact cooking times, water level and the tragi-drama of cracking shells and leaking cumulus clouds of whites. Now that I am 28 giant years-old and know how simple it is to make a soft boiled egg, I can look back and laugh like a drain at my hapless father. But back then, I was part of this drama. His job was to be the dedicated kitchen serf and mine to play the haughty mini maharaja of his affections. With each attempt, wobbled onto my plate with a hot metal spoon and a hopeful look of expectation, he would implore me to test it. Too runny? Too hard? Just right? I was his culinary Goldilocks, and he, my hero.
I don't remember when my dad stopped making me my eggs. Many things happened after those days. He and my mother split up, most acrimoniously. For a couple of years, I never saw him. Things changed. Sometimes our conversations can feel heavy with things unsaid.
I have learned to make my own eggs. But when I make this supper, which I do, at least once a week in winter (cheap, protein filled, easy) I always think of him. I feel him, there, over my shoulder, as I take to my plate. Too runny? Too hard? Just right. These eggs taste like happiness. They remind me of home. And my father's love.