Butter to My Eggs

When I moved here, I was surprised (okay, maybe not that surprised) to discover Mr. Omar owned exactly one frying pan. One beautifully shiny, silver-bottomed pan that managed to ruin EVERY SINGLE THING it touches. Fish and chips withered into naked-bottomed fillets and a sheet of burnt breadcrumbs. Eggs and potatoes fared no better. And believe me, I tried.

And tried. And tried.

No matter how much butter or oil I threw at this metal monstrosity, it always vomited up a crispy mound of black and brown egg goop.

Come on, man. Where is your dignity? Where is your civilization? Where is your non-stick cookware?

If ever you should happen to find yourself in a similar situation, I would recommend the following:

Tara’s beached potato and egg 10 point assistance plan
  1. Assess damage.
  2. Accept the fact that the food is gone.
  3. Discard or eat any big chunks that come off easily.
  4. Drop a small amount of water on the pan until it screams and steams like an angry sea vent.
  5. Scrape the bottom of the pan while the pan is still steaming, taking care not to burn your fingers off.
  6. Turn off stove.
  7. Rinse pan in cold water.
  8. Wash normally.
  9. Get a dough scraper or an old credit card to scrape any leftover spots that didn’t come off with the steam therapy.
  10. Make toast instead.

Ah, the tragedy of non-nonstick cookware.

Failed eggs and conciliatory toast was the reality of my breakfast-making for many months. Mr. Omar eventually accepted the egg-frying duty, after which mornings become significantly more wholesome. Until one day recently when an early morning meeting saw him out of the house before I left the blankets.

Simultaneously tempted into cereal-making but disheartened by the discovery we had since run out of corn flakes, I once again dropped the silver monster on the burner; this time to surprising effect. Within minutes, two eggs were sliding gracefully off the bottom and onto my plate like fairies landing on a leaf. Beautiful. I could almost hear applause as it dropped.

The victory was egg-citing (yay, breakfast and bad puns!) but also confusing. It was the same cook, same pan, same butter, different burner (maybe that’s it?), but with wholly different results. In many ways, it bugged me that the pan I’d cursed for so many years had suddenly worked so beautifully (because why?). Had Mr. Omar  done something to trick the pan into thinking it’s nonstick cookware? Had I become sufficiently South African enough to merit a decent breakfast? Or had it just woken up one day and decided it was done leaving victims maliciously malnourished?

I joke here, but it’s also kind of relevant to other feelings I’ve been having recently, mostly with regard to the weather.

I read a lot of popular magazines articles on “academic” topics, and, as one could probably guess, global warming is a popular subject. There’s no reason or desire on my part to dispute the issue; the ecosystems relayed in articles have been looking depressingly bleak for quite a time. The intensity with which the world’s eggs are burning, however, seems to have suddenly escalated tenfold, and that deserves a mention. In a few short months I’ve read of stronger than average hurricanes, forest fires, mudslides, Saharan snowfall, starving polar bears, boiled bats, cold-shocked lizards, scores of beached mammals and a whole host of other, really distressing things. There are even stories of whales organizing in large numbers for no well-understood meaning in articles that stop just short of assuming it’s the end of the world, as though the creatures are preparing, Douglass Adams-like fashion, to burst into a catchy show tune.

So long and thanks for all the krill…

I don’t doubt that the events themselves may be disturbing, but what is especially worrisome is that there is no real way to measure how disturbing they actually are.  As previously mentioned, I’ve read many a global warming prediction, and despite many of them being pretty pessimistic, none of them said, “Yeah, we expect everything to go [boiled] batsh*t crazy in exactly 12 months’ time.”

Have we passed the ecological tipping point sooner than expected? Is there some major event the globe is gear up for? (…like an electromagnetic field flip? …because the way they’re talking it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it finally flips.) Or, is the heightened emotional drama like the butter to my eggs, trying to un-stick certain influential people’s mindsets before everything ends up an unappetizing black-brown goop?

As per my cooking fiascos, I tend to be more egg-oriented. I’m often concerned more with ideas than people, and goal-oriented, buttery persuasiveness is not a skill I can claim in any sense of the metaphor. From a utilitarian viewpoint, I probably have no right to complain. Affecting social policy is far more relevant than little old me having a less-biased, more academically accurate view of the weather. I mean, I can’t really do anything about it, other than feel nice in the knowledge of what’s really going on. Still, it would be nice if all around people worked more toward empathy and less toward manipulation. In such a utopian case, I imagine, the simple facts alone would be sufficient motivation for action. If the amount of effort we spend in convincing people of a problem’s existence/importance was put toward the actual solving of them, I can only imagine how gracefully our eggs would slide.

Until such a time, it looks like the tragedy of beached marine mammals and accursed frying pans will continue to endure.

If you happen to be cooking your breakfast beachside and say, a dolphin or whale washes ashore, here’s what the city signs recommend you do:

Dept. of Environmental Affairs’ beached marine mammals 10 point assistance plan
  1. Call 080 911 4357 immediately (South Africa)
  2. Do not return the animal to the water.
  3. Move the animal onto the beach, facing away from the water.
  4. Dig 30 cm deep holes around the fins and tail.
  5. Cover the animal with a wet cloth, and the eyes with a smaller cloth. Do not cover the blowhole.
  6. Keep the cloth and the animal wet, avoiding the blowhole.
  7. Clear the beach of children, dogs and crowds. Keep noise to a minimum.
  8. Provide shade for the animal if possible.
  9. Transfer the animal’s weight from one side to the other every 20 minutes by gently rolling it approximately 30 degrees from the upright.
  10. Maintain these steps until help arrives. Be careful around the powerful tail.
Emergency Numbers:

107

021 480 7700

080 911 4357

Sea Rescue:

021 449 3500