Monday, April 6, 2015
Happy Easter, everyone! Best wishes to all on this totally non-sectarian day of chocolate, finger-paint and bunny ears!
This year, I celebrated by dying chicken eggs with a friend and her two small children. Bunny ears in place, the kids parked themselves at the kitchen ledge mixing bowls of food-color and vinegar. Danette and I had a slightly more haute-couture technique in mind.
It is very elegant and simple - you take a stack of thrifted silk ties with nice bright patterns, and you cut the fabric into squares, and you wrap and tie the silk tightly around the eggs, and you boil the eggs in water with vinegar for quite a long time, and when the eggs are cooled, you unwrap them and you find that the patterns on the silk have transferred artistically to the eggshells. It's very simple and very elegant and very lovely.
Danette and I leaned on the kitchen ledge and snipped and wrapped and tied, while a small child dunked boiled eggs in yellow food coloring and solemnly explained that we did this to honor the Easter Rabbit, who once a year pooped out chocolate eggs for all the good little children everywhere.
My eyes crossed. "Are you sure that's not the Easter Chicken? I thought the Easter Chicken laid the eggs, and the Easter Bunny gives them away in baskets."
"Nope." The small child fished the egg out of the yellow and held it half-way in and half-way out of the red food coloring, making a sort of ombre effect. "The Rabbit poops, and we get them under our pillows."
Who am I to argue? The Easter Bunny and the Easter Chicken haven't graced my house with the Big Hop in years - I'm old enough that I'm expected to go find my own eggs.
The kid's eggs turned out fantastic. Kid #1 did a whole Jackson Pollock thing with dribbles and stripes drawn on with a wax candle, and Kid #2 wanted pure colors -
"Not even a stripe? Or your name in wax?"
"No thank you." He said politely. "I like mine just plain. They're perfect."
And they were. Really.
Ours, on the other hand…
Our haute-couture eggs didn't come out quite exactly like the ones in the internet tutorial. We had wrapped the silk as tightly as possible, but somehow the patterns on the silk didn't adhere to very much of the eggshell, and where it did stick we mostly got lumpy streaks and smears, and one of the ties turned out to contain a very unstable dye that gave everything a base shade of purple.
Some test-dyes might have been advisable, in retrospect. I might have done quite a lot of preliminary research, because after-the-fact, the deeper I looked into things, the less simple the silk-dyed-egg technique apparently was - there is quite a lot of crosss-chatter on crafting sites trouble-shooting the elegantly simple instructions and suggesting where to get lots of fresh silk ties in a very big hurry.
And most of the eggs burst during boiling, and they hadn't been very nice eggs in the first place, so the blotchy swirls smelled unpleasantly sulpherous and not at all like anything an Easter Rabbit would want underneath her in her Easter nest.
They were not, in short, our best efforts.
Mr Tabubil was very severe when he came home. "Not a failure. Don't use that word. Did you have fun?"
"Well - "
"You all enjoyed yourselves, didn't you?"
"I guess - "
"Then it wasn't a failure, was it?"
"I suppose not."
"Right." And then he spoiled it all by giggling. "It's exactly like one of those Pinterest Fails. The instructions look so simple and clear and go step by step so that absolutely anyone can do it - they just don't tell you that doing it correctly needs five years of art school or an apprenticeship with the Culinary Institute of America. The result at home is… less polished. But you had fun, right? That's what counts."
The swirls on our eggs were lovely, when you really looked at them, and didn't compare them to the perfect internet version. I went away and ate some chocolate rabbit poop. Non-sulpherously.