The Magic Egg

A few years ago my wife Sarah, my son Kieran and myself spent a few weeks backpacking in South India. Kieran was just five years old at the time and although he handled most of what came his way he struggled with the food, especially away from the tourist centres, and then even in some of those. If they happened to be on the menu he would happily fill up on vegetable noodles day after day. In a dark and much-partitioned waterside restaurant in Kottayam this dish was memorably on the menu, beautifully misspelt as 'vegetable noodless' which gave us a chuckle but no variety to Kieran's diet. In fact his diet at this time could be summed up very succinctly - oodles of noodles.

So shortly after we arrived in the tourist centre of Kovalam we headed for an open-sided palm-thatched beach restaurant and scanned the menu for the western-style cuisine on offer. Kieran made a considered choice and was soon tucking in to double egg and chips, with a generous splash of ketchup. Towards the end of this feast Kieran was beginning to struggle to make room for more, and in the way that young kids do was starting to poke and play with his food. One of the two eggs remained entirely untouched.

At this point a jungle crow, which must have been observing from a distance, flew in and joined us, perching on the back of the vacant fourth chair at the table. In quick succession it looked at the egg, looked at Kieran, looked at Sarah, looked at me, then propelled itself low across the table and made a wonderfully clean take of the object of desire, fleeing the scene with the miraculously intact and entire fried egg flapping from its claws. From us there was a split-second of shocked surprise quickly followed by hoots of laughter. It was a wonderful moment, and still is, either in quiet recall or when it gets mentioned between us. When I ponder the 'nourishment' we've all garnered from this warm happy shared memory I reason that for all of us this was certainly the most nourishing egg we never ate! Truly a magic egg.

H Moden

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