Eggs. Dad style.
It’s Fathers’ Day here in the US this Sunday. Now I’m not one to reproach any chance for a wee celebration, but it seems to me these parent-celebrating Sundays - for all their best intentions - are basically a field day for a whole host of difficult emotions.
I completely loved my Dad, but I’m old enough to understand that not everybody had such a great time when it came down to either having parents, or being one. I reckon Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ day are a bit like bikinis: fine if you’re lucky enough to have everything naturally in the right place, but otherwise a painful reminder that Nature doesn’t always shape things perfectly.
And yes, I am grouchy. There’s a weird weather thing going on in LA right now. It’s dull and overcast and LA isn’t built to be dull and overcast. It’s built to be sunny. When the weather’s weird in LA it feels like being in a theme park off-season: You can see there’s fun to be had at some time but it’s not happening now.
There’s also the WGAW and SAG strikes, and the stuff in the news, and the constant nagging suspicion that this whole world is being run by complete imbeciles. In the stillness of the LA gloom, there’s an ominous feeling. One way or another, something needs to give.
And I know I’m not alone in this, even the chickens are weird. In the middle of the week, Genghis the rooster was making the ‘there’s an emergency’ noise at 5.30 am. I opened the curtains and looked out the window. Once he saw me, he calmed right down and gave me an appreciative little dance. He just wanted to check in that everything really was ok.
With all the out-of-sorts-ness during the week, I decided there was nothing for it but to make Chinese Egg. This was one of my Dad’s creations and is basically boiled egg with butter, toast, and salt in a cup. But boiled egg, butter, toast, and salt in a cup doesn’t have a ring to it, so my Dad declared it was Chinese Egg instead.
It was the only thing my Dad could cook, and as a result it was what we ate when my Mum was away somewhere or if she was sick. So, even now I have it when things feel a bit out of place.
My Dad had a thing about eggs. A second world war baby, he was convinced that if you had eggs in the fridge you were rich. Here in Tweddley Manor, we have chickens so we don’t keep our eggs in the fridge. But it often does cross my mind that my Dad would think we had won the lottery by having fresh eggs on tap. I like to remind myself of that when I feel the world is out of whack.
I made some of my Dad’s egg concoction for me and the kids, and we sat round the table laughing about how there’s nothing particularly Chinese about it. My eldest did point out though, that he thought it was good that my Dad did credit the Chinese for something so tasty, when we live in a world where they keep getting blamed for everything.
I told them that though my Dad was almost a permanent west coast of Scotland man, he did enjoy the idea of the exotic. Only the idea though. I made him a Thai chicken curry once, and even just looking at it turned his stomach. So not to hurt my feelings - and not to incur the wrath of my mother - he tried eating it. But he literally looked like a dog chewing a wasp. I will never forget the look of gratitude on his face when I said I had some breaded fish I could heat in the oven for him. Whenever I think I could have been a better daughter, I think of the Thai curry moment.
He was always a meat and potatoes guy, but as a fan of James Bond, he entertained the idea of being debonair. Once in a restaurant in Paris, and very enamored with the food (steak frites), he said with great benevolence to the waiter, “Muchos gracias.” The waiter, momentarily confused, nodded politely and my father nodded back, signaling a bond of respect between them. Turning to see the bewildered expressions of everyone else at the table my Dad explained, “They like it when you talk foreign.”
True, my Dad wasn’t great on languages, but he could recognize a good guy in any nationality.
Over lunch, the boys talked about what to do for their father’s day. Mark is notoriously difficult to buy a gift for, and there’s only a certain amount of socks and underwear any human can own. Between us though, we hatched a plan. And thus proved my Dad’s philosophy - The world always does looks better after Chinese egg.
My Dad was right about a lot of things. You don’t need to speak the same language to recognize a good guy, and you don’t need to be defined by titles either.
If you didn’t have, or didn’t get on with your father, today can be about celebrating someone who offered you guidance. If you struggle in a relationship with your kids, offer up a bit of help to someone who needs a hand.
If the day upsets you, ignore it. After all, just because bikinis exist doesn’t mean you have to wear one. And if you really don’t know how to feel, make some eggs. And give them an exotic title. That always works.
Till next week
This is a reader-supported publication. To support Notes From The Valley, please consider becoming a paid subscriber.
So, here is the plan Fergus, Lachlan and I hatched.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial