Friday, November 7, 2008

memories of a wee bit of tea

The other day D was telling me about one of his childhood taste memories - his mom's homemade yogurt (lucky guy, huh?) scooped into a kiddie bowl, sweetened with greedy little spoonfuls of dark strawberry jam. A bit of swirling, slurping and happy times...mmmm!

Which got me thinking...

I've been a pretty active (enthusiastic? affectionate, perhaps?) eater these last three decades, and so have many, many madeleines, so to speak. The funny thing is, is that sometimes I blur my real memories with ones that I'm sure I haven't experienced myself, but rather have read in novels or seen in movies...tell me I'm not the only one?

A real memory: we have a bottle of chili oil (at my mom's house, kept in the middle door shelf of the fridge), of indeterminate age and provenance, although early 80's chinatown might be accurate, whose greasy orange label and fiery, sinus clearing, vaguely medicinal taste instantly reminds me of my dad's sunday afternoon ritual of noodle eating. Whether it was the instant Ichiban or the fancy fresh kind, he'd always douse his steaming bowl of soupy noodles with great rust-coloured lashings of that crazy oil. And then proceed to turn an alarming shade of purple and red. I was pretty little then, but I'm almost positive I remember hearing him swear under his breath, while inhaling deeply and nodding his head, right before throwing down another fire laced spoonful into the bowl.


The other morning, though, I had a funny, vaguely familiar recollection as I puttered about making some tea and eggs for breakfast. I'm really enjoying the super strong breakfast tea these days. I poured my cuppa and added the milk, and all of a sudden thought of a scene from Angela's Ashes. (I have to admit that I'm usually terrible at remembering names, events, sometimes even whole days, unless there's food involved, in which case, I'm your girl!)

These guys, by the way, are pretty much the most incredibly delicious eggs I've come across in awhile. Deep orangey yolks and all...

Another little treat I picked up, made from pastured cows in Quebec, lovely golden yellow creamy butter, mmmmm....

I remember being struck by one particular scene in the story where the main character, who has spent his childhood poor and constantly starving, living off of stale bread and strong milky tea (and in one melodramatic case, licking the grease from old fish and chip newspapers), is dreaming about the most outrageous of treats: a boiled egg.

I look at my brother Malachy. Did you hear that? Our own egg of a Sunday morning. Oh, God, I already had plans for my egg. Tap it around the top, gently crack the shell, lift with a spoon, a dab of butter down into the yolk, salt, take my time, a dip of the spoon, scoop, more salt, more butter, into the mouth, oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world . . .

And egg lover that I am, I haven't ever quite gotten that image out of my head. Funny how some things stick, isn't it?



And so, my new morning treat these days is a strong cup of breakfast tea and a little boiled egg. With butter and salt, of course.



  1. Gracious! Those are some of the most perfectly cooked eggs I have ever seen-how long were they cooked for?

  2. I chop up two medium boiled eggs in a coffee mug and add heaping spoonful of Smart Balance (used to use butter) and a bit of salt. So I am crazy about that taste combination. I am asking like Fiona how long did you boil your gorgeous eggs?

  3. fiona and babs15: Hi! After many attempts of all kinds (starting in cold water, with salt, with vinegar...) I now do this every time: Take eggs from fridge to take the chill off, put on pot of water to boil. (Gently) place eggs in boiling water and set timer for 7 minutes. Shock quickly in cold water to make peeling easier. Thanks for asking! :)

  4. I've never put butter on a boiled egg before... seems like I'm missing out!

  5. omg thank you thank you, as I was reading/ drooling at your post I was crossing my heart that you would say how you boiled them. I just tried it right now, and they had the most perfect texture and looked amazing!! thank you!!

  6. s.a.: I think butter makes just about everything better! mmmm, butter...

    chris: So happy that you tried it out. Long live the boiled egg!

  7. crazy i have the exact ( and i mean exact) same home-made yogurt and dark strawberry jam childhood taste memory. to this day i only sweeten my yogurt with strawberry jam ( or maple syrup when i need the change)
    great blog!