Eggs-hibiting intolerance

So, I had eggs for brunch today. Fried, sunny-side up. Or bulls-eye like my father (and undoubtedly a number of other Tamil families) used to call them.

I love them like this. I love to salt and pepper the eggs generously, then use a fork  (the best thing about eggs, this – no exertion in cooking nor in eating, just a light tap, a soft cut, a deft scooping up of whites or a gentle mopping up of runny yolks) to eat the white in almost concentric circles. Till only the barest edge is left around the glorious golden center. The extreme skill-building while growing up, learning how not to break the yolk in the process, preserve it for the last.

And then (and I know very few people like to do it this way), to carry that shimmering disc to your mouth, and eat the entire thing in a go – filling the inside of one’s mouth with sunshine, as it were.

Are you all rolling in your seats? At my extreme eulogy to fried eggs? (And yes, I love Nigella Lawson.) There’s a reason for this. Let me tell before you judge.

So, the-love-of-my-life left me about 8 months ago after almost 3 years of a rather intimate relationship. Also almost 3 years of eating eggs only in the scrambled form. Seasoned a particular way, cooked only to a certain point. If ever either of the above went wrong, it was definitely noticed, and if ever anything different was done, it was certainly pointed out. (Once I scrambled minced meat/kheema in eggs. Him: “I’ve never had it this way.” Taranga, inside her head: So what?)

Not his fault. I’m not blaming him. And the intention of this post is not to ‘hate on him’ (as the cool people say these days). I’m just trying to point out that food and diversity in individual taste and/or habit is actually a very problematic area in an intimate relationship. It often becomes a means of expressing intolerance. Not just difference. But intolerance. Why does this happen?

Scrambled is far from my favourite way to eat eggs. I prefer a fluffy omlette, or a poached egg, even boiled anda is better. But I don’t hate scrambled eggs. Whereas he doesn’t like runny yolks, the love-of-my-life (let’s start calling him LML for short, shall we?). They made him want to throw up, he hated the taste that much. I understand, completely. Totally.

I also feel slightly bad ( slightly condescending attitude perhaps, but still not intolerant) for people who will never experience the joys of eating yolks. I didn’t like hard boiled yolks when I was a kid. Am glad I do now.  But the point is, I understand if you don’t. And I don’t share my judgement on your particular dislike with you, out loud, saying ‘tsk tsk!’ or ‘HOWWW CAN YOU NOT LIKE IT??’ Stupid question. The answer is only obvious – ‘This is how.’

I remember my sister couldn’t stand fish when she was much younger. It’s fine. It happens. I hate something, too – ripe, whole papaya. It makes me want to retch. WHEN PUT IN MY MOUTH.

But I am grown up and considerate enough to hang out with papaya-lovers during their papaya-gorging/cutting/carving/fruit-salad-making and relishing moments. Including LML. After all nobody’s forcing me to eat it, nobody’s sticking my nose in the bowl, and I am free to move away if the smell is too concentrated around me.

So why then, would someone in an intimate, daily cooking-and-eating-together type of relationship, just assume that the other person likes eating eggs exactly like they do? Why wouldn’t they at least ever ask once in 30 months of togetherness how their partner would like their eggs? And why, when the partner once pointed it out, and then made their own fried eggs (sunny-side up) would they constantly remind the other about how much ‘I hate runny yolks’ and ‘once I had a bad experience’? Why while the other person’s enjoying their favourite kind of egg once in 30 months? Why? Why? Why?

And it’s not like I didn’t ask before breakfast whether he’d be uncomfortable/grossed out completely – if told so, I wouldn’t do this around him at all. At the end of this particular incident, as I was eating the last bit as described above (with multiple warnings from yours truly) – he looked (sounded?) really disgusted and turned away. Why do that?

I didn’t eat fried eggs again until a couple of months ago. Sad, but true. When my best friend made some for me. I couldn’t even make them for myself again. How lousy! And it’s really not his fault. It’s mine. Because I just gave up something I love so much because I’d rather eat with him than not.

But I still don’t understand, how come he never asked. And why he didn’t make the choice to just let me eat fried eggs without letting me feel bad about it. Like I made the papaya-choice because he-loves-papaya-and-i-love-him.

Nor do I understand why kids from North Indian families (apparently traditional, judging from their lunchboxes) used to make it a point to taste and then express disgust at the food of us kids from other cultures. Or why I was always ridiculed and largely disbelieved on the question of preferring rice over roti/parantha by ex-flatmates in another time, another space? I have never forced anyone to eat my cooking or to my tastes only, or even insisted they should like what I like. Why should it be done to me?

What is this intolerance? When does difference stop being yours and mine and begin to affect ‘us’? And how does it hurt so especially much when it’s a food thing, a simple, small joy in life, the-way-you-like-your-eggs? Why does it hurt more when it happens in daily-eating-together relationships?

I beg of everybody out there who can afford to eat what they want to (and I’m fortunate I can, let me never forget that), don’t give it up just because someone else doesn’t like it. I’ve been in the fight against feudal food fascism (beef-banning, e.g.) long enough. This is not about that.

It’s about resisting all kinds of homogenising tendencies. It’s about not killing your soul. On your own. And the soul only really thrives on little happinesses like this. It’s severely scarring and I don’t think we even notice it until it’s done. My friend made me those fried eggs only after I saw a picture in a book and remarked aloud. Imagine, I had to be reminded of something I’d always loved! Wow. I just realised I’m like Julia Roberts’ character in that movie. But at least I already knew the-way-I-like-my-eggs. A constant in my memories from childhood to hostel years to the first kitchen I set up, the first breakfast I cooked there. How and why did I erase that part of myself?

But let me not dwell on this any longer. I just want to endorse to everybody the very great emotional, spiritual and psychological benefits of eggs-the-way-YOU-like them. Go make/order some, NOW. It’s very self-reaffirming and liberating and cathartic and so so much more. Sunny-sides up! (Like bottoms up. Haha. Get it? Sighh.)

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Comments
2 Responses to “Eggs-hibiting intolerance”
  1. Dushyant says:

    Came here through Varna! Loved the article. Food’s role in having a good state of mind is something that is not stressed as much as it needs to be. I too would love it when my future half likes the food they way I like it but I am also open to cracking eggs differently 🙂

    Pictures would be nice of the food you make

    • tarangasr says:

      Hi, and thanks for reading.
      But see, the point I was making is exactly this – people in intimate relationships don’t HAVE to like the same stuff (to eat or otherwise). It just shouldn’t mean that they expect each other to. And they certainly should not make the other feel bad about liking something different.
      Yeah, I guess the post was a bit extra(?)-emotional. But I have warned everyone about that on my ‘About’ page. 😛
      I plan to upload some pics soon, maybe of the food I grow first.
      You have an interesting blog yourself, I read the Sunday lunch post and really liked it 🙂

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