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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Try It. Just Try A Little.


I’m what they call, around these parts, a “good little eater”.

This is code, I suspect, for “plate-licker”.

What’s that? You want me to try a taste of something? Sure! What is it? Don’t want to tell me? Okay, I’ll still try it, but if it’s something you know I would’ve had a strong aversion to, I get to punch you in the arm.

Once.

Really hard.

There are very few foods – that I’ve tried, anyway – that I won’t eat. Having said that, however, I will tell you that I have no plans to ever eat liver again, a piece of limburger cheese once ruined my day, and I will not eat a hardboiled egg.

Outside of that, sure. I’ll taste what you’re eating.

The fact that I don’t care for hardboiled eggs seems to offend some people.

“What do you mean you won’t eat a hardboiled egg? Why not? What about egg salad? How do you get by without egg salad?”

How do I get by? Very well, thank you. I simply do not like hardboiled eggs. I don’t care if your grandmother made them herself, I’m not eating one.

Now, I may appear to have eaten one, but rest assured that it’s been dropped unobtrusively in my purse while no one was looking.

I will then dab at my lips with a napkin and tell her that lunch was delicious.

But I discovered something the other day. Something about myself and the humble egg.

It's all because Ma made pho.

Ma – and this is her name, we’re not talking about my mother here – made pho.

Do you know about pho?

To call it a “soup” is a disservice, and I won’t stand for it. No, sir, pho is rice noodles, meatballs, pork, shrimp, and beef cooked in a pot you could bathe a toddler in, all covered with a clear broth.

It’s a big bowl of Vietnamese happiness.

Ma brought some to work the other day.

“I brought it for you, too,” she said. “We’ll meet in the lunch room.”

And that’s how I found myself seated in front of a large ceramic bowl filled with things I’d had before, all prepared in an entirely new way. Ma showed me how to add any combination of lime, jalapenos, bean sprouts, Thai basil, mint, cilantro, green onions, dried garlic, chili sauce, hoisin sauce, sweet soy sauce…

Pho is a tinkerer’s dream.

And so there I was, stirring and sipping and twisting noodles haphazardly around my chopsticks when I found three ping-pong-ball sized eggs in the bottom of the bowl.

I looked up to see Ma grinning at me.

And not just any grin. A happy, look-I’ve-gotten-you-a-present grin.

Our eyes met, and suddenly she remembered.

“You don’t like boiled eggs!” she exclaimed.

“But what are these?” I said. “Why are they so little?”

“They’re quail eggs,” she said. “If you don’t want them…”

Wait a minute.

Where have I heard this tone of voice before? In my mind’s eye, I suddenly saw my father: “No, no, no,” he was saying, “The porterhouse isn’t good enough for you kids. Here, have a hotdog.”

I speared an egg and looked at Ma. She was smiling.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “These are really good, aren’t they? And you gave me three. Not just one or two, you went out of your way to give me three.”

I thought for a moment. Ma nodded, smilingly silent.

“Hey. You love me, don’t you?” I asked, teasing her. “You gave me three of your favorite things!”

Ma started laughing. “I love quail eggs, but honestly, I forgot you didn’t eat eggs…”

She reached for my bowl, whereupon I made stabbing motions at her with my free chopstick.

“Get away from my treat,” I said, laughing at her. “My friend Ma wants me to try these because she like ‘em.”

And I did it. I popped a whole quail egg in my mouth.

And then I chewed.

And you know what?

I really like quail eggs.

And you know what else?

When people really like you, they give you the best of what they have.

I hope you're having as beautiful a weekend as I am.

35 comments:

Daisy said...

:-) Love this post Pearl, and glad Ma treasures you enough to give you 3, yes 3, of her favourite food. You deserve each one, and more.

Pat said...

I really like you Pearl and I would love you to try my devilled eggs. When the publisher came to lunch he had three.

Leenie said...

Those who go out of their way to share their favorite things are the best kind of friends. And it sounds like you do know how to make good friends who make good things.

Someday I want to try pho.

Sioux said...

Do not fall for Pat's trickery. Hardboiled egg in any form is not good.

(I knew there was a reason why I'm such a feverish follower of you, Pearl. Now I know why...)

Lin said...

It's a new spin on the Tale of the Magi--Ma likes you, so she gave you her eggs. You like Ma, so you tried them.

Hooray! A happy tale for today. :) That's a nice way to start the weekend.

Shelly said...

You and Ma have it right. On a day when I'm making caldo and homemade tortillas, a labor of love for my family, I really, really, truly enjoyed reading this. And here, have a hard boiled quail egg from me-

TexWisGirl said...

that is really sweet! and good for you for honoring her by eating them, too.

Eva Gallant said...

What a great story! Ma loves you!

Roses said...

What a lovely thing for Ma to do for you.

And how gracious you were in giving it a go anyway.

You're just awesome aren't you?

And I'll eat your boiled eggs for you, because that's what friends are for.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

You were very brave to pop a whole boiled egg into your mouth...and lookie lookie....you liked it. You know, taste buds change as you, ahem, mature. Maybe if you tried a boiled egg now, perhaps sliced in a saled or devilled (devilishly deliciious) you might like them. Go ahead..try it...try just a little bit.

Perpetua said...

Awww, friendship means sharing your boiled eggs with someone. :-) A lovely tale, Pearl, and see how worthwhile it is to try things....

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I won't be surprised if some day pho is named the Minnesota state soup. Or at least the Miss Congeniality of soups, with wild rice being the queen. Good for you, trying the eggs! Ma is a sweet friend, and so are you.

The Jules said...

Ha, I loved this!

When you're finally deported from the colonies to England, I will make you a quail scotch egg, which is the type of egg an angel would chew off it's left wing for.

It's one of the few things I'm good at cooking.

Daisy said...

This post made me say, "Awww," when I read it, and I like that! :-)

Ian Lidster said...

Actually I really like liver, bacon and onions. Sorry. Now, for your 'pho', they make the same thing in Hawaii called 'saimin' but it is minus the quail eggs, but it does have an egg drop component. You made me hungry.

esbboston said...

My wife is repulsed by the act of plate licking (in humans, dogs are okay). Don't ask me how I know this.

esbboston said...

Yea! I am so glad you got to have phở! (Noticed that I bothered to go to Wikipedia where I knew I could pick up the quintessential ở with the appendages. You know how I love you.) Yes, the quail eggs are good. I have been to two out of three of the phở shops in AmariLLo so far. I have been eXploring several things on the menus as weLL. I have not succeeded in getting my timid taste budded wifey to join me yet, though.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Pho is heaven in a bowl!

What a sweet story; the love we call friendship is so often the sweetest love of all. She gave you her best and you laid down your boiled egg-hating life for your friend. ;-)

Have a grand weekend!

vanilla said...

Yes, that is love: to give the best of what you like. Now I know this is about eggs, and soup, and Ma, and love. But I am with you on the liver, won't touch it.

Joanne Noragon said...

Only one thing on my do not eat list and it isn't pho. Great pho story!

Suldog said...

You're a lovely soul, Pearl (and so is your friend Ma.) As for egg salad, yecchh. Disgusting stuff.

ellen abbott said...

very cool. I don't think I've ever eaten a quail egg. but you know? if it looks like soup, if it smells like soup, if it tastes like soup? it's soup.

jenny_o said...

What a lovely story - and how great that you actually ended up liking those quail eggs. Bonus outcome!

Geo. said...

My grandchildren are half-Vietnamese so I've had a lot of culinary education these past 8 years --mainly at Pho Dynasty Restaurant about 10 minutes away. There's also Pho King Restaurant about 5 minutes away but the in-laws won't go there. Let Ma be your guide.

Jayne Martin said...

"When people really like you, they give you the best of what they have."

I just love this! And everybody loves you, Pearl.

River said...

My dad was a plate-licker, especially if there was gravy involved.
I don't mind liver and bacon, but I prefer kidneys, they're a little sweeter.
I'm pleased that you tried the quail eggs and found them acceptable.

Tempo said...

Sadly I'm having a nasty weekend, one filled with family conflict. Accusations thrown about like so many Quails eggs...plenty to go around.. would you like some of mine Pearl?

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I'm glad you tried the quail eggs, Sam-I-Am. (And liked them!) Super sweet story.

The Elephant's Child said...

I don't care how much anyone likes me I am not eating liver. Any sort of liver.
I was presented with the same piece of lamb's liver for three consecutive meals when I was a teenager. I refused to eat it then, and would again.
I am glad that you liked the quail's eggs though. And even more glad that you have a friend like Ma.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

To give you what she likes most...Ma is a wonderful friend and so are you to try and to savor her favorite treat.

Gigi said...

I'm with you on the hardboiled eggs....but I gotta say I do love a devilled egg. Weird, I know.

fishducky said...

How could anyone not like kosher chopped liver, you little shiksa, you?

sophanne said...

Yes. And what I like as well is when someone like Ma does something like that for someone like me and I happen to not have my head up my ass and actually notice the gift. Lucky you oh mindful one

Amanda said...

Awww!!! Ma sounds like a wonderful friend!

Roshni AaMom said...

What a sweet post!! And, you know what? I hate hard-boiled eggs and I love pho!!!