It’s the ordinary things that seem important to me.
This Sunday I enjoyed the rare luxury of having the entirety of an afternoon liberated from any obligation to weigh it down. So I went see the lovely mister Alex Colville at the gallery across the bridge. If you’re anyone like me, regardless of the reason (be it the need to get the most bang for your buck, pure curiosity of a three-year-old, or genuine appreciation for the arts), you’d make your way along the walls of the gallery at approximately sloth-pace for the sake of reading every single description, quote, and commentary of every single painting.
Colville’s works, in all truthfulness, did not appeal to me in the least when I stood in front of the gallery, staring into the woman with the binoculars’ forehead on the oversized promotion poster. No vivid colors, nothing provocatively creative about it, just painfully ordinary.
But as I moved from frame to frame, I became moved frame by frame. Something about the way his impeccably detailed brush strokes merged into minimalism and the way the intense reality of each subject somehow hinted at the surreal was simultaneously familiar and refreshing.
Indeed enjoyment, at least for the modern busy soul, rests in the down of the everyday, and is defined by a taste for the yesterdays.
a great storm on the sea,
was being swamped
by the waves;
but he was
My grandmother had an unwavering belief in eggs. In the mansion in southern Taiwan where my mother and her three siblings grew up, they kept chickens on the rooftop terrace. It was at once a delight and a pain to reach past the menacing beaks of the angry hens and to sneak out a couple of down-specked eggs each morning. For my ah-ma a few eggs symbolized the wholesomeness she worked so hard to provide for her children. In retrospect, the eggs tell a different story – one of contentment, and how it only decays as our haves become greater.
Ingredients for the Tomato Creamed Eggs:
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp canola oil, divided
- 3 large free range chicken or duck eggs
- 2 tbsp milk or water, optional
- 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp loosely packed brown sugar
- sea salt, to taste
- splash of white vinegar
- 1 tbsp corn starch, stirred well with a glug of cold water
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the milk or water lightly using a fork in a small bowl.
- Add 1 tsp of the oil into the skillet and pour in the eggs. Stir and break up the mixture by pushing the outer edges into the center using a pair of wooden chopsticks. Dump everything back into the bowl once the eggs just begin to set. Set aside.
- Preheat a wok or a sauce pan on high heat until very hot. Tip in the remaining oil, swirl the pan to cover (it should be a shimmering coat), and add the sliced tomatoes. Add the sugar and season with salt to draw out the moisture. Cook the mixture on high heat until the tomatoes have dissolved and the juices have become syrupy, about 8 minutes.
- Add a splash of vinegar to brighten the tomatoes, stir, and fold through the eggs, breaking them up a little. Immediately pour in the corn starch mixture in a round motion and stir through until the mixture tightens up. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a deep plate.
- Serve with freshly steamed short-grain rice or some crusty bread.