The ritual of soft-boiled eggs
One of the most pleasant memories of my childhood was the ritual of the soft-boiled egg. The egg would be set upon the blue flamed burner of the old gas stove in a pot full of water. I remember the tick tick tick noise the burner would make before the flames would spring to life. This set creation of my breakfast into motion. An egg timer would be set on the stove to further incite excitement into the production. I would watch the timer from my assigned seat at the kitchen table. A seat that was mine because its safety properties of being the farthest point from any sort of mischief I could create. At the ripe old age of 4, I was a professional mischief maker.
My heart would pitter patter with anticipation as the ancient sand from some mystical egg making beach would slowly drain through the hour glass from top to bottom. Once all sand reached the bottom, I would bellow to my grandmother, who most likely was sitting on the old rotary dial telephone in the pantry carrying on about the latest gossip with one of the ladies from church. The pantry was in arms reach of my assigned seat. I was never much further than arm’s length from my grandmother.
Grandma would excuse herself from the call, hang up and proceed with the ritual of my breakfast. The egg would be dried with the kitchen towel and placed in an ornate egg cup. My egg cup was brown on the bottom, made of plastic, cream-colored on top, with a dainty pink flower decorating the front. I also had a small spoon whose handle was also decorated with a pretty spring-like flower for the specific ritual of soft boiled egg consumption. The next step was to tap the top of the egg with the spoon, cracking it gently before removal. The interior of the egg would then be stirred with the spoon. This would mix the white and yolk, a dab of butter, a bit of salt would create breakfast heaven.
I was not allowed to tap the top of the egg. Too many eggs before had been murdered under my unrestrained egg-taping hand. Regardless of protest, Grandma insisted that post-egg-timer egg production breakfast prep would be hers and only hers.
Grandma would sit sipping her cup of tea while I would gently scoop the mixture from the shell with the spoon. Frequent reminders were given to “Be gentle.” “Go easy.” “Don’t rush.” Once finished, a thick slice of Irish brown bread would be presented toasted and slathered in butter, coupled with my own cup of tea, which was sweetened with sugar and cooled with milk. In hindsight, I imagine my copious tea consumption could have contributed to my level of mischief. Once consumed, breakfast was then complete and we could dress to walk over to town to Mass at St. Mary’s Church.
Today I will hunt for egg cups, tiny spoons and egg timers. I will find perfect teacups, then I will gather my brood of children around and make them breakfast just the way Grandma did. Not a single child of mine will be allowed to tap the top of the egg. Not even my grown daughter. That privilege is now mine.