Despite no one wanting to deal with a wallowing whining why-me wimp, ‘Sullen Dan’ still occasionally drops by for an uncomfortable unwanted visit. Luckily, it’s fairly rare that he makes his way out of his dreary cave under a particularly grotty back-corner of my limbic system down a long poorly lit corpus callosum hallway hidden behind a much more happy-go-lucky hemisphere of my brain. Personally, I wish he would stay in there; I don’t like the guy. Whenever he is around I find myself having to apologize afterward for his dour mood. I mean, well… he’s a putz. But as much as I try to keep the guy outta the house, every once in a while he drops in unannounced at the stupidest of times, like the other day when I ruined my hopes of a delightful refreshing lunch by making a particularly repulsive batch of egg-salad.
Now I normally like egg salad, but it’s always been a background food for me. I enjoy it when it happens to magically appear in front of me, it’s just not a food that pops in my mind very often. I can’t say in the past I have woke up craving egg salad like I have with other foods like bacon and… um bacon, and of course… well bacon. I don’t have a mental block against egg salad, I hold no ill will or anger towards egg salad. I have no scaring painful traumatic memories relating to childhood egg salad abuse like I do with brussel sprouts from when my Mom made me sit at the table hours after everyone else finished dinner until I finally consumed my serving of increasingly cold and nasty brussel sprouts from my plate. A test of wills that of course I lost but still remember.
No, it’s nothing bad, egg salad just does not normally pop into my mind when I am making something to eat. And most certainly with all the other more exciting crave-worthy options in the world, I’d never consider ordering egg salad in a restaurant or deli. It’s just a mushed up hard boiled egg with a handful of simple ingredients. You would think I could whip up a nifty little sandwich worth pretty easily. Yeah. you would think.
I make a dandy tuna fish salad. Which correct me if I am wrong but the only difference between ‘tuna fish’ and ‘tuna fish salad’ is that with tuna fish you just plop it out of the can versus ‘tuna salad’ where you toss lots more crap into it to cover up the actual taste of tuna. I remember as a kid watching my Mom and Sister using their respective recipes to doctor a can of tuna with stuff like celery, lemon, pickle juice, onions, and enough dollops of mayonnaise to triple your daily recommended fat intake. Theirs was definitely more salad than tuna but I like the taste of canned tuna, so I personally go light on the salad part.
My tuna salad is sometimes extra odoriferous though, because I often add ingredients like curry, tamarind or Branston pickle to it. Then I really stink up the house by making it a Tuna Melt with some sort of ooozy cheese on top. I like the cheese…. especially melted. My wife hates the smell of it, so the past few years I save it as a treat for when she is not home
You would think my mastery in elevating a simple tin ‘o’ tuna to Dan’s Sammy Salad de Tuna Meltski Tres Magnifique would transfer to the salads of the chicken or the egg (not sure which would come first) but alas success on those salad variations is elusive to me.
You see, when I am sandwiching at home, I rarely remember the simple delight of a successfully splendid egg salad. It’s like pimento salad; I never remember that pimento salad exists till I see someone else get pimento salad, then suddenly I want pimento salad, I ask for a taste of their pimento salad and usually love it, I say to myself ‘I need to pick up pimento salad next time I’m out’, which I then forget until years later when someone else orders a pimento salad and the whole thing starts over again. As a kid I never even knew pimento salad existed. The only thing I knew about pimentos was that somebody spent a lot of time shoving them into olives. I didn’t even know they were a pepper. But eggs, I knew eggs. Yet for decades egg salad just never was on my radar.
But more recently I have had egg salad on the brain… not literally, unless that Sullen Dan guy dropped some heading back to his hidden home. The past few years the Wife and I have been trimming carbs. That started her hard-boiled-egg-a-holic kick. Frequently there is a bowl of them in the fridge. Sometimes she just slices them with salt and pepper but quite often she whips up a batch of egg salad. It’s great stuff and I have seen her with it enough that I not only remember it but actually have had a craving.
Now my wife is one of those people with an amazingly perceptive pallet (yes I know, since she is with me you assume the only taste she has is in her mouth). When she tastes something, she can usually pick off every last subtitle ingredient that is in it. It’s crazy. She could get a job at some food analysis lab or least make bribe money at the state fair bake-off threatening to expose the winning entrant’s recipes.
She uses that skill to cook by taste versus recipe. Which I can’t do. She takes a little sip and can say something like ‘oh that needs a pinch of Cream Of Tartare’. How could she know that would be the missing link? I know we have an ancient package of Cream Of Tartare in the spice cabinet but I don’t even know what the hell Cream Of Tartar is. It sounds like a cheap Campbell’s soup flavor like Pepper Pot that cleans your teeth while you eat it.
This makes it hard for me to reproduce her food because she just kinda makes it up as she goes along. And it works! Nothing tastes 100% the same as the last time she made it but it’s usually pretty damn good. Unfortunately, because her pinch of this, dash of that, season to taste directions, when I try to follow one of her loose recipes I usually produce something reminiscent of what my dog deposited in the yard… the day before… in the middle of the summer… after he ate two cans of bean and liver flavored store brand generic dog food… and a raw steak off the counter. Something like that is what happened the last time I tried to make egg salad.
A few weeks ago all these things combined, and I not only remembered about egg salad, I had my first real hankering for egg salad. I grabbed the last hard-boiled egg from the fridge mixed in all the ingredients that I could recall my wife using, smushed it all together with a fork, smeared it on some bread and blamo, I made my first from scratch egg salad sandwich in decades. And it sucked.
Oh it did not just suck a little, it sucked more than the quality control testing area of a drinking straw factory, it sucked worse than a Kirby Vacuum door-to-door salesman convention, it sucked like Pauly Shore’s Bio-Dome movie… it was just plain spit that out of your mouth vile. I did not know that food could taste that bad. I’d have rather eaten a surströmming and casu marzu sandwich with a side of durian fruit. I’m not sure what I did wrong but it was god-awful.
The only thing more foul then the food was my mood afterward. Egg salad seemed so simple to make and I completely screwed it up. Plus that was my last egg; I was now eggless and had no way to quench this rare egg salad desire. Sullen Dan came creeping out of his hole and the fact that he appeared just made me even more irrationally moody. How could my egg salad err make me so miserable? Luckily my wife was not home to see me become irrationally upset over egg salad. Oh well. At least we had some tuna.