Sunday, July 27, 2008

"In the depths of her interior were fears she was inferior and something even eerier but no one dared to query her superior exterior."

I have a huge sentimental fondness for egg flower soup, stemming from the Chinese restaurant in my hometown that we would go to as a family when I was little. And what's not to love about it? It's delicious, simple, fascinating to look at and has a lovely name to go with it all. (Minestrone, on the other hand, is a nice word in the mouth to say but not so much to eat.)

Unfortunately for my egg flower soup eating habit, I am slightly allergic to eggs. This is not to say I will die or become extremely puffy - it merely gives me a headache and dizziness and slight nausea. Enough that I try to avoid it when possible. What is odd is that it's only egg in concentrated doses that makes me feel the way I feel. For example - scrambled, hard boiled, omelette, quiche, french toast - if it's noticeably egg I will react. But if it's blended into baked goods, etc, nada. Which makes people look at me askance - including me - and ask, "Aren't you just trying to avoid eating foods you don't like such as scrambled eggs and french toast?" This is a possibility. But! I would never voluntarily give up either quiche, which I have an unholy passion for, or deviled eggs, which I make a mean one, if I say so myself, and which are often a requested item at family gatherings. Even such beloved dishes cause such physical unpleasantness that it is with great sorrow that I have prohibited myself, I have turned them aside, we are no longer on speaking terms.

So Egg took the high road and I took the low road, and never the twain shall meet. Until a person I was involved with - who was a great mastermind when it came to food - suggested that perhaps it was only chicken eggs which I was allergic to. Naturally I scoffed at the idea - surely an egg is an egg is an egg, and an egg by any other name would smell like sulfur. But as they were paying for breakfast at a lovely little B&B in Friday Harbor, I consented to an experiment, and tried a duck egg. Lo and behold, nary a twinge - and yet I'd spent so long avoid egg that the mere texture and flavor was anathema to me. Well, and duck eggs are much thicker on the tongue than chicken.

And then I came to Japan, and here the big thing (pun intended) is quail egg. These are served a couple times of week in various soups, or curry, or bread-crumbed on a stick. At first I was reluctant to devour something so cute - it is common sense, after all, to not eat cute things - it is the instinct that keeps us from devouring our young. But I tried one and became a convert. They are so tiny and delicately flavored that it's less like eating an egg and more like a gum drop. It is a feat to pick them up with chopsticks, but they're worth the trouble.

But back to the original point, which is egg flower soup! In Japan they like to eat blowfish which is extremely poisonous. If it's properly prepared by a chef who has undergone an intense training, there is no more than a little tingle. If im- it causes death, death, and more death. People like living dangerously, and keep eating it. There is a story about a famous sumo wrestler, I believe, who served it at a party because it was his favorite dish. His guests were not so fond, and so he ate their portions as well as his own, and promptly died. I like thinking of egg flower soup as my blowfish - if the egg is diluted with enough soup I'll be fine, but a bit too much and it's argh city.

This all leads into, What I Had For Dinner Last Night.

I think there really must be a discipline of fortune-telling on the shape of the egg, like tea-leaves or metal-casting. The first few times I tried it the egg clumped together miserably, and unfortunately solid enough to trigger my allergies. But I figured out if I beat it well first, and then get the broth (dashi and miso, per usual) spinning before I drizzle it in, it pretty much makes the lovely strands like you get in restaurants. For a main meal I wanted something more substantial so I added tofu and some cabbage. And sesame seeds which are a little weird suspended on a liquid. But still, overall delicious, and no lasting ill effects.

Also, check out the cute bowl I bought so that when my mother visits next week we can eat concurrently instead of consecutively, waiting for the other to finish and trading off the one dish like something from Dickens.

Like that esteemed author, I am very good at writing a great deal about something minute. As you can tell.

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