It had to come out sometime, but I still always kept the hope of never having to discuss it. Bessie was the first to find out. She was flabbergasted. People eat chicken eggs.
The topic came up after I helped Bessie put on the master chef’s hat and apron I had made for her. We were discussing how she wanted to help people learn to cook things like roasted pumpkin seeds for their chickens.
Then we started talking about corn which chickens also like, and I shared how people enjoy corn and cornbread. Bessie had never had cornbread, only corn. So she asked what was in cornbread.
Cornmeal. Wheat flour. A little sugar because we are in the south. Baking powder. Butter and buttermilk from cows. (We did have to take a side trip to discuss cows because by not being on a farm, none of them had ever seen a cow.) And, of course, eggs.
The word was out of my mouth before I had a chance to think. Eggs.
After a very long explanation, Bessie found peace with the uncomfortable truth of people (including me, their own Chicken Daddy) eating eggs. I will never forget her still-baffled voice when she said, “And all along, we thought you were just tidying up the nesting boxes!”
It did help to let her know without Lefty or The Emperor around, their eggs would never have real chicks inside to hatch. It also helped letting her know the people who received their eggs were truly grateful for all of their hard work and dedication. Everyone, absolutely everyone, said their eggs were superior in every way.
“This changes everything,” she said as she turned and walked away. “I’d better let the others know.”
After the longest time, she came back and began to set down certain rules while standing on my foot to make sure I had her full attention.
“If people are going to eat our eggs, then they’d better serve them on the best possible plates they’ve got in the house. No exceptions.”
So I brought out one of my Blue Willow plates for approval by all six chickens. I explained it was one my grandparents had owned and how I had eaten off it since I was a little boy. They were my favorite and most treasured plates.
Their unanimous decision was these plates would be suitable, particularly since they had two young chickens flying in the air. (Yes, I know these are actually not supposed to be chickens, and I know chickens can’t fly that way. But sometimes it’s not always wise to share too many uncomfortable truths in a single day.)
“If people are going to eat our eggs, then they’d better know how to cook them properly. No sloppy cooking.”
I reassured Bessie we would test every single one of her recipes until it was perfect in every possible way. I did let her know it might be wise to not completely guarantee success because not everyone would be able to use eggs produced by her and the others. We had mutual agreement about how less than superior eggs could produce less than superior results.
Then Bessie began to tell more about what she wanted to do as a master chef and the kinds of recipes she would like to share. She had originally wanted only recipes like roasted pumpkin seeds for people to make for their chickens, but now she also wanted recipes for people to make for themselves.
Her ideas were expansive and so very beautiful, designed to honor their eggs and all they did to produce them. She even wanted to create recipes that could be made for both chickens and people. I was amazed at her graciousness so soon after discovering what happens with eggs.
“One more rule. If people are going to eat our eggs, then there have to be pictures with the recipes, and I’m going to draw them so anybody, even a child, can follow my recipes.”
My eagerness to discover what would come next grew, but Bessie would say no more. She had clearly taken control over anything food-related and now drawing-related too!
All I could think to say was, “Yes, Chef.” And we both smiled.
My Life With Gracie (and especially Bessie) expanded my heart to new and unexpected possibilities.
I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! This is the first post from a series. You may want to skip to the next post about Bessie’s dream of being a master chef.