The Most Memorable Meal I Made in 2016
One evening after work, I decided to travel out to Gowanus to attend a panel on food writing and indie publishing hosted by Cherry Bombe magazine. I learned about how the small teams behind publications like Cherry Bombe, Lucky Peach, and Gather hustle to bring lush narratives about the things we eat to life and that copies of the first issue mostly only sell to the parents of individuals on the masthead.
I called my own mother as I schlepped to the subway with my arms stacked with canvas bags filled art prints of pound cake to tell her that I was making my way home. Now, based on my 25 years of knowing Lisa Lardiere, I can distinguish between her many phone voices, like her 5 p.m. Voice that makes her sound like she’s suffering from a case of typhoid while wearing a turtleneck that's three sizes too small. (It’s most often used to guilt-trip my father when he’s stuck in traffic on his way home from work.) My mom's voice that night was one that I had only encountered on a few solemn occasions. It oscillated between notes of reassurance and fear as she told me that my dad took her third child, our dog Lily, to the vet because she “didn’t seem right.” She said that Lily hadn’t eaten all day and that she wouldn’t come out from hiding in their bathroom, even when she tried to offer her cheese. Lily is 11 years old, so I always fear the worst when it comes to her health scares that aren’t deadly fits of gas, but just as I left from Penn Station, mom called again to relay the vet’s verdict. She said that Lily was only suffering from the side-effects of a spider bite and that her behavior would return to normal once she slept and ate.
However, it was evident that Lily still didn’t feel well when I finally arrived home, sometime around midnight. She didn’t greet me at the foot of the steps when I walked in the door like she normally did. Instead, I had to search for her and found her laying on her side in our dining room, shivering, and panting hoarsely. When I went to rub her belly, she recoiled as if I had punched her, yet her wide eyes looked to me for help. She hadn’t touched the food in her bowl and she sounded dehydrated, so I embodied St. Francis of Assisi as quickly as I could without shaving my head.
I moved Lily's water bowl closer to her and helped her stand up to drink. While she slowly lapped up some liquid, I went to the stove to make her favorite breakfast in the world: soft scrambled eggs. I whisked two eggs in a bowl with a fork as a small knob of butter melted in the skillet over low heat. I poured the eggs into the pan and shimmied them around just like Julia Child demonstrated with a frypan full of dry beans. Just when curds started to set, I poured the eggs out into a dish and blew on them until they had cooled off.
I brought the plate over to Lily and set it down on the floor. She sniffed it cautiously before taking a bite. And another… and another, and another, until the only eggs left were those that lingered on the tip of her nose. She would find a way to also eat those too while waiting on her requested seconds that I sprung up to make. After eating her third egg, Lily's eyes glittered again and her bones were strong enough to hold her up to stand without wavering. She pushed her head on the carpet — a gesture that she uses to tell us that she appreciated her meal — and collapsed once again on her side, but this time with her tongue flopped over her smile that said, “If I wore pants, I would unbutton them right now.”
As I watched my plump dog drift off to sleep from the sink while I washed the skillet, the reason that I love to cook for others became so very clear. I don't pick up a spatula to show off and I certainly don't drive to the grocery store with the intention to make foam out of ingredients that I can't pronounce. Cooking, for me, is about injecting life back into the soul by way of an edible remedy, even if that magic elixir is only scrambled eggs served on the dining room floor.
Ok, so fine. Our Christmas Eve dinner was pretty good, too.
🤔 ANALYZE & DISCUSS 🤔
What's the best thing that you made this year, if not dog food?