In the past year, I have mastered the art of making an egg two ways: sunny side up and fried over easy. Though this may seem to be a low level skill, it signifies my move from novice to intermediate chef in my mind. I am able to not only manipulate ingredients to create flavor, but also able to manipulate heat to cook a variety of ingredients properly with love.
This evening I made myself a crazy good sandwich; It’s sandwich week at the Campbell & Chintha household! We had turkey clubs by chef N on Monday. We had brie, basil, tomato, and fried egg over easy on oat bread on Tuesday. Tuesday’s was so yummy that I made a new variation today on brioche bread which turned out to be oh so comforting and satisfying! (Side note: If you haven’t tried basil, parsley, or cilantro on a sandwich, do it now!) Eating my sandwich and watching the yellow yoke ooze out of the sides making it impossible to stay clean while eating, I remembered something Anthony Bourdain said on Top Chef this season: slap a runny egg on anything and it’s perfect! (sadly not a direct quote, but close enough). Why is it that runny eggs are so good? It’s not like they have a complex flavor. Maybe it’s the simplicity and ability to play with it a bit by poking it and watching the yellow run all over your plate that makes it just right. It’s like a little pocket of sauce that you can get whenever you are ready and sometimes when you aren’t ready.
When I was younger I knew the sunny side up egg as the bull’s eye egg. Mom only made it on special occassions. I loved it and have fond memories of Sam and I eating our bull’s eye with chapatis. It was one of the few foods that came to us in such simple form-egg, salt, and pepper. When I moved to the US, I didn’t know for a long time for the bull’s eye was called and would always get scrambled. I like scrambled, but come-on there’s nothing like the runny yellow yoke! It took me a while to figure out sunny side up was the name. It took me even longer to get the courage to attempt it in my own kitchen.
I didn’t begin cooking for real until I was 24 because (embarrassingly) I lived at home until then and there is no reason to cook when mom’s around! Her food is badass! And yes, it took me 6 years to perfect the sunny side up and over easy eggs- I was busy living in extremes.
Cooking has become such a vital part of my identity and existence. There’s nothing more satisfying or self-esteem boosting than creating the perfect dish. It’s creative, relaxing, validating, comforting, and satisfying. The kitchen is the only place that I make mistakes all the time and laugh about it. I am very gentle on myself while cooking- no expectations! This realization got me thinking why it is so easy for me to laugh off mistakes and have no expectations and be so confident in the kitchen, yet find it so difficult to do those same things in every other room in my life.
Maybe because I don’t have anyone judging me. It is very solitary, but in a good way. I cook mostly for myself- N eats whatever I make and is nonjudgmental in every way. No one tells me what to do or how to do it. I have such trouble when working for others. I suddenly put unrealistic expectations on myself. Worse, I expect to be perfect and any mistake I make I cling to, instead of moving forward.
My journey with the over easy egg has been an important one because there were several mistakes along the way, but I did achieve my goal in the end. However, each mistake taught me a new skill. There were times when I flipped it too early or had the heat on too high or didn’t have enough oil in the pan. Each taught me to fix the problem the next time and move forward. This is my goal in my life. I have made some mistakes in my choices, but must remember that each mistake allows me, if I am able to laugh it off, to develop a new higher skill. Seems like a simple lesson, but like the sunny side up egg and over easy egg, will take me a few years to perfect.