Incredible Eggs

Catarina Zissou
Jun 2, 2017 · 8 min read


If the reader does not appreciate eggs, and they don’t think they are ever likely to, then this may not be the story for them. I am sorry. We tried to consider you, it’s just that we didn’t want to. Also, shame on you. For not knowing our *world*.





I am frightened of eggs, worse than frightened, they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes … have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid? Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it.

— Alfred Hitchcock

The truth is… I am obsessed with eggs. Fried, mostly. I could be given eggs in any style and I would eat them. I have never been a fussy eater. Yet, if you put a tomato in front of me, now I have a number of unpleasant things to say to you. Tomatoes are a food that has not been kind to me since childhood. They look like plump, promising missiles. A gleaming smooth skin, like the back of my phone, ready to bite. Leaving a watery residue wherever they go, like the most useless watercolour in the planet. They toss them in salads, believe it or not.

Some people worry about the Trump presidency. I am very much one of them. Yet tomatoes are up there with the moppy fella. We live in a time of tomatoes. The frightful texture you encounter with a bite, the rubber velvet that precedes the seeds, and the liquid which might as well be living to attack you. Oh, it’s a hell of an attack. It wants to jump into your lap, your breasts, your new expensive sweater. As notable as I believe the colour red to be, because of Christopher Doyle’s cinematography for Wong Kar Wai or the feeling of meeting a lover with a hint of the hue in hopes of a more eventful time, keep the damn tomatoes out of my sight. They are the monster trucks of food.

I wonder, who is going to care about egg love in the motherfucking combustible age of Brexit?

I am often laconic about my egg opinions. I can seem like a “Gone Fishing” sign if you ask me about it. It is because there are things for me to hold onto. Keep to myself. This, you must understand.

A friend of mine asked me to write this. I was very confused. I still am. But I will explain to her, and you, why eggs matter.

I will let you know something about me. A fleck of light in the starless sky.

I like them in the many ways they can be cooked: scrambled, poached, soft boiled, fried… fried, fried, fried, fried eggs, of all, are my go-to. Fried eggs are my source of comfort, they bring me happy memories.

“Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.”

— M. F. K. Fisher

I eat eggs when I am poor. The ugly times, happen more often than you think they ought to. So you deal with them by confronting whatever awaits you in the pantry. The bare, uninhabited pantry.

Being poor is not nice. It is not fashionable. It drives people away. We are not at a point in time where being poor is equated with greatness, unfortunately. It takes temerity. So often I feel weak. Like someone who is twenty-two, I feel my most inspired and lovable when I am penniless.

Having five dollars to your name for an indefinite amount of time is not fun, and the food that comes with it, well, it’s not something to remark on. But placing a piping hot, salt and peppered, fried egg on a bed of rice… Now that’s remarkable. It’s the beginning of the fantastic in this poverty stricken kitchen.

When I am deprived, eggs are there for me. I can place them on so many dishes to make a complete meal. They’re easy, quick. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel so bad for being so destitute. They stop me from walking around the house chanting “She is destitute! She is destitute!”, like the authentic pop song of my life that it is, for undisclosed periods of time. The yolk taste is so delicious, gooey, pleasurable. A penniless girl is smiling. Everything is fine. The present sits still.

They’re like the glossy bow around the Christmas present you know will be the best. The one you sniffed and shook when no one was watching. They’re like the first time my mother took me to the Cartier shop in Lisbon and I was mesmerized, but with food.

They’re the final touch.

I can add them to my leftover McDonalds double cheeseburger, the day after, when I wake up gravely hungover from a hectic night in the city with my hectic sluts and chimney-smoking friends from the art phases, the party phases, the depression phases, the whatever-drug phases.

I can cook them for me and a friend. I don’t know if they care for eggs, maybe it’s a mushroom person that sits beside me today, but eggs are a symbol of love.

“It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”

— Dorothy Parker, You Might As Well Live: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker

I sympathized with Dave Eggers, simply because his surname starts with ‘egg’ like he is a descendent of an illustrious family, one with egg rituals or egg perks of sorts, like mine. I always thought of his surname warmly. It seemed so nice that these people, like us, existed. It wasn’t just my damn mother. It wasn’t only my house. I thought to myself, this can only be a good man. I will forgive him even if his writing bores me at times. So I forgave Eggers, sometimes.

“Do I look stupid?” snarled Uncle Vernon, a bit of fried egg dangling from his bushy mustache.

— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I eat eggs because I grew up with them, they were in my house. My mother made them for us. She always had a tray in the pantry, without fail, the classic dozen egg tray. Frequently, she bought the twenty egg tray, too. Eggs were a landmark in her kitchen.

My mum would not allow me to be the fussy type at the table. She didn’t feed me terrible, crazy, or stinky things, like some of the other kids’ mothers.

Often I stopped and, looked at their lunches, wide eyed, at what their mothers had made for them, perennially thinking,

“-Porra. Their mums must not love them very much”.

There is no salt on your overdone steak. There is no egg laid on your plain rice. There is no sauce anywhere. It is chaos. The lettuce was chucked in with a stew. The mothers were very crazy in my head. Sometimes, I would see them at the end of the school day, during pick up, and wonder which of them was the wild woman who didn’t salt things.

There were always friends, even private enemies, who wanted to swap lunches with me, mine were tasty. Sometimes there were egg sandwiches in my lunch box. They were smelly, embarrassing. No one wanted to smell like an egg during lunch. I wasn’t trying to be bullied, but when I saw the thin layer of ketchup between the egg and the bread, I thought, “Yum!”.

I didn’t always enjoy the lunches. I hated some of them. Sometimes I felt like she was punishing me. But she taught me to accept what I was given and to be thankful. I was always grateful when I saw what the other mothers were sending my friends. My mum was edgy. She was cool. Her sandwiches were off the grid. Often, egg would be inside of them.

“I like my relationships like I like my eggs. Over easy.”

— Jarod Kintz, It Occurred to Me

I ate eggs when boyfriends broke up with me, when I went through crushing heartbreak. Relationships did not work so well for me most of the time.

Some people smoke. Some drink the pain away.

I popped one in the pan. As it was slowly frying, I stared at the egg white coming to life, painting itself, filling in slowly with strokes of Resene Half Alabaster. Hunching in the kitchen of the apartment like a corpse, I was like Lurch in the Addams Family, wondering why didn’t they love me, why did they always leave. Waiting for my egg to cook, it’s a motion I know well, and there is a comfort in what becomes of it, my beloved egg.

During a depression that won’t leave me, like a top sheet, eggs bring me closer to a time of safety, a time of Mum and growing up. It’s freeing to remove the sheet sometimes and today, I take it off and drape myself in doting memories and with a plate of eggs.

“I like eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs. Eggs I do adore.”

— Jay Z

Fried eggs are memories of living in Portugal and running away to Spain for the weekend, in my dad’s car.

I was born and grew up in Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest in Western Europe. It’s magnificently old and a treat if you love castles, like me.

It would take an entire day, but my parents would drive me and my sister to Spain. Before the border they insisted on stopping in a village, Elvas.

In Elvas, there was a restaurant where my mum would add fried eggs to whatever she felt like, usually traditional Portuguese meat dishes, like Carne de porco à Alentejana, a pork and clam dish that is very famous. I think that’s why we went there, looking back on it.

She could make her funny additions, like in my sandwiches for school. She could throw an egg on anything. She would always ask for a fried egg.

I spoke to her on the phone recently. I told her that I think I love eggs as much as she does. She giggled like I had just said something naughty. She was proud of me, joyous. I asked her why she loves them.

She said “Eggs are my most favorite food. I would eat eggs every day if I could. Your father can’t. But I think they’re yum.

I think eggs are yum, too. And that they should be celebrated. That you should annoy whoever you live with by cooking them too often. That you should not make fun of people at brunch, for going to the toilet after eating Eggs Benedict. That maybe it is not so bad to smell like an egg if the prize is eating it. Fried eggs save my days. They cure my sadness at times. They bring me closer to things that I love.

Fried eggs, I love.

“I mean what I said and I said what I meant”

— Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches The Egg

Catarina Zissou

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ketchup as salad dressing🌹pastry chef/ full time rami maleK wife the cranberries sang at our wedding