I have four very specific, early memories of eating eggs. All are from when I was four or five years old. I remember eating fried eggs at the dining room table at 1073 Allston Road in Cleveland Hts., Ohio with my dad. The eggs were fried the way my dad would later teach me to fry eggs: in a pan of hot fat (butter, oil, or on special occasions- BACON FAT) on med-low heat. When the whites are mostly cooked, tip the pan carefully so that you can spoon the hot fat over the egg until a nice film forms over the yolk. My dad served the perfectly fried eggs with "soldiers" - a piece of toast cut into half-inch strips, perfect for dipping in the runny yolk. But I so vividly remember that on that same morning he also taught me that if you ever were without bread, the proportion of white to yolk was just right to dip your bites of the white INTO the yolk and never have a bite of one without the other. He had me eat one of my fried eggs with the toast "soldiers" and the second practicing taking the right amount of white and yolk together to eat the egg just right. In retrospect, his upbringing in post-war England is strikingly obvious, but at the time I truly learned it as a lesson - we were lucky to have bread. Perhaps most children of fathers born in the UK in the 1940s learned to count their blessings in a similar fashion. Brilliant parenting, if you ask me.
My second memory is my dad making me soft-boiled eggs and serving them in egg cups, while simultaneously introducing me to great literature, religious warfare, and satire by using it as an opportunity to discuss Gulliver's Travels, big-endians, and little-endians. "But that's so silly," I probably would have said when he explained that deciding a right and wrong end from which to crack open your soft-boiled egg (by tapping it demurely with a knife, of course) was reason for a divide between people. "That's the bloody point," he probably would have said.
I learned the upside of differing opinions via this third memory: my cousin Pam, 3.5 years my elder and the person I looked up to and loved more than just about anyone in the whole wide world, to whom I'd later pen long hand-written letters during my teenage years and save quarters to call from the pay phone outside of Dublin High School, with whom I'd share a real "Best Friends" split-heart necklace eventually, my cousin Pam and I were sitting against the wall in my playroom at Allston Road, each with our own hard-boiled egg. "I don't like the yolks," Pam said. "I don't like the whites!" I responded, gleefully. The answer was clear. Two yolks for me, two whites for Pam, and we could get back to playing the imaginary world we had decided upon together and were functioning in quite happily until my mom interrupted us with this annoying thing called lunch.