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Lions Roar : July 2017
EGGS WERE MY MOTHER’S mood barometer. When my parents were happy, she made us delicate soft-boiled eggs every morning. They were nestled in English porcelain egg cups, their tips carefully sliced away so that my father and I could dunk untoasted fingers of bread into the runny yolk. But as my parents’ marriage got rocky, our breakfast eggs were medium-boiled, their yolks cooked to a thick orange velvet, and when I turned fourteen, my mother began cooking them to the consistency of hard rubber squash balls. My parents divorced the following year, and, for the next two decades, I would no sooner eat an egg than I would swallow poison. HEART & MIND Meals that Heal the Heart Her parents’ divorce meant angry mealtimes, but ELISSA ALTMAN found her way back to a nurturing table. She shares her tips on preparing and enjoying meals that heal yourself and others. ELISSA ALTMAN is the author of Poor Man’s Feast and the James Beard Award- winning blog of the same name. PEARL/LIGHTSTOCK Of course, the universe works in mys- terious ways and I became a food writer, forever searching for peace and nurtur- ing at the table as a way to undo my past and create what food writer Marion Cunningham termed “the modern tribal fire”—a place where we can sit, eat, and create community. Feeding people at my table is a form of practical meditation for me, with every step in this process of creating sustenance marked by a sense of purpose—to heal body, mind, earth, and often, spirit, and to commune with friends and strangers alike. Twenty years after I last ate one of my mother’s angry eggs, I was fed break- fast by someone I was beginning to love. One morning, she quietly slipped into the kitchen, tenderly cracked two fresh, locally-laid eggs into a small pan of gently simmering water, and swirled them around until their whites grew firm. Three minutes later, she lifted each egg out of the water with an old, worn, slot- ted wooden spoon and set them down, one by one, on a slice of plain buttered toast. She sprinkled each serving with flakes of Maldon sea salt. When I sliced into the egg set in front of me, it ruptured into a dark golden river— perfectly cooked and mindfully prepared. I closed my eyes as I ate, slowly smelling, tasting, and swallowing. I waited for the familiar flavor of fury to return to my mouth, but it never came. In its place, pure sweetness; in my heart, pure gratitude. If we want to create our own nurturing table, we must reacquaint ourselves with both mindful cooking and eating for sus- tenance and nurturing, while also making an effort to support humane growing and raising methods. How to get there? LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 19 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE