There are many women being remembered on this blog, including many by me. But the first significant person in my life who died, and who cooked for me, was my dad, Phil Levy. He died a long time ago – in 1987. I was only 19. He was one of the kindest men you could ever meet, and terribly trusting. Once I told him I was collecting signatures and asked him to sign a blank piece of paper right down the bottom. He did it. Above it I wrote “Emma cannot participate in PE class today” in my best Dad handwriting, and felt so guilty for duping him that I tore it up and did PE.
I really wanted to give Dad a spot in the blog, but the only things I could remember him making were whiskeys at the end of each work day, and barbeques, in the great NZ tradition of the 80s where men suddenly became the cooks in that single circumstance of the backyard barbie.
Then I remembered Sunday mornings before going to Hebrew School. Every week he made us poached eggs on toast. Much effort went into them. He told me it was crucial that you boil the water, but only put the in egg when you've removed the pot from the heat, and that you must put vinegar into the water. That’s a recipe, isn’t it?
The other thing that happened every week, without fail, was that he would break a yolk. Much swearing accompanied each breakage - one of the few times this mild-mannered man broke out into a litany of language no child should hear. It was so inevitable that I sat at the breakfast table each Sunday morning, tensing myself, waiting for the break and the swearing that ensued. I sat quietly, wanting to yell out “why don’t you break it into a bloody teacup first so at least if it breaks it’s not in the bloody water"?? But I'd have got told off for swearing.
So here ‘tis – a tribute to a beautiful man who was lost to us far too young, and who put more effort into his kids’ Sunday eggs than anyone I know.
Poached eggs on toast for your kids on a Sunday morning
1. Boil water.
2. Take it off the element.
3. Pop bread in the toaster.
4. Put a dash of vinegar in the water.
5. Break an egg into the water.
6. Break the yolk.
7. Swear for up to a minute.
8. Start again.
9. Put toast onto the plate and butter if desired.
10. When the egg white has just turned white and solid, get a slotted spoon and take out the egg,
hoping it doesn’t splosh through the slots or plop over the side back into the water, probably
breaking, in which case add more swearing here.
11. Spoon the egg onto the toast.
12. Hand dish to your child who is both relieved the weekly routine is over, prepared to eat the
egg in whatever state it’s in, and is quietly filing away the language they’ve just learned.