Life writing: Acceptance of need and the art of scrambling eggs

Colour photo of two eggs and a silver fork against a plain background

This is for someone who might be precious and particular about the manner in which scrambled eggs should be prepared. Here, there is no harsh cracking of shells, no thoughtless tipping into a bowl, no adding milk, no brutal whisking before an assault of temperature. The process of making scrambled eggs should not be rushed. It should be given your full attention because it has the potential to mean something more.

First, heat the pan and add some butter to melt, then salt, black pepper and paprika. The calories in the butter are irrelevant because this is art and chemistry, and it smells rich and warm and amazing. You may have lived in fear of calories before, and that fear may still raise its ugly head from time to time, but you can come to learn that hunger and a desire to create can overcome most things eventually, if you allow yourself that shift in perspective.

Break the eggs directly into the pan. There is a specific pressure and speed with which to fracture shells against metal, just enough to manipulate them open with careful fingers and expose everything contained within. You may not remember how many times you get this wrong before the one time you don’t, but you will develop the skill to reliably, and without great consideration, break something apart elegantly and with minimal damage.

Puncture the yolks with the edge of a wooden spatula and let the insides spill out. Over a low heat, fold the eggs gently, pausing between folds to allow the parts in direct contact with the pan to cook before changing the landscape of this small temporary world of your creation. This takes time and a delicate touch. You are watching something happen. You are making something happen.

Add cheese. This is not strictly necessary, but it is delicious. Sometimes introducing a non-essential ingredient can serve as a reminder that the experience of making and eating food should be one of joy and experimentation, rather than a battle with yourself. It may not feel like this at first, but one day it will and you will come to relish that change.

Toast some bread, because bread is not the enemy and carbohydrates do not have mystical powers by which to instantly change your body from safe and controlled to wild and unacceptable. Bread is simply bread and it is good with scrambled eggs.

Remove your eggs from the heat and take a moment to notice how there are parts where the whites and yolks are completely mixed together, but also parts which are just white and parts which are just yolk. Elements may combine and collide and chemically fuse but sometimes they will just sit side by side, and this will be comfortable and exactly as it should be.

When you put your toast on your plate and your eggs on your toast, you may initially fight a wave of anxiety that rises as a conditioned response to food, the idea that nourishment is a threat to your equilibrium. Even after you come to understand that you need food, it may take some time to accept that you can also enjoy it.

Before you eat, you do not need to perform dissection. You can simply separate a fraction from the whole, consume and repeat. This might feel like relinquishing boundaries and years later you may still avoid allowing the food to touch your lips as you put it in your mouth, but you will taste and chew and swallow and smile as you revel in an experience that you have given yourself permission to have, without guilt or judgement.

Even on days when you can’t look in the mirror and clothes surround you like prison walls and every cell of your body feels like too much, you will still scramble your eggs and toast your bread and understand that this is fine, this is what you need. And you will finally, through conflict and wars waged and battles lost and won, embrace the truth that there is no shame in need.

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