Brian steers his car into the Whole Foods parking lot and everyone turns to look. Something is wrong with the hubcap on the passenger side—something is smacking around repeatedly down there—and it sounds rather like horse’s hooves. Or coconuts being banged together. So we gallop into our parking space like the cavalry, which is what we are, of course. We are here for the supplies to the dreaded A-1 PICK-ME-UP.
1 pint dark rum
1 lb. rock candy
1 doz. eggs
1 doz. lemons
Squeeze the juice of the lemons into a crock pot; add the eggs broken in their shells. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to stand for several days (the shells will dissolve.) When ready strain through the cheesecloth into another pot. Combine the rum and the rock candy in a saucepan; boil with a quart of water until smooth. Combine with the egg mixture and bottle for future use.
So the first phase entails combining the raw eggs (in their shells) and lemon juice and letting it all sit around “for several days” (!) until it’s ready. (!!) Brian and I have argued for several days about what “several days” and “when ready” could mean. It depends on what the meaning of “is” is. What we need, we decide, is to have somebody’s great-grandfather explain to us exactly what the hell is going on. Somebody who might have made one of these delicious pick-me-ups back on the farm.
We have also argued whether we have to make the full volume of each recipe, or whether we can cut them down to something more manageable. Brian, the purist, says we have to follow the letter of the law, and we emerge from Whole Foods having spent $17 on a dozen cage-free eggs and a dozen shiny lemons. “There is some magic lost when you try to make partial recipes,” Brian says. Or maybe I just imagine he says this.
Back at Brian’s place the recipe comes under even more scrutiny. Does “add the eggs broken in their shells” mean to break the eggs and throw everything in the pot? Or does it mean to break them with a pin or by shaking them up, so that the shells remain intact while the eggs inside of them are broken apart? And what about the yolks? Interpreting this instruction might be obvious for somebody in the 19th century, but it isn’t obvious for us. We devote significant mental energy to this question, eventually opting for the broken shells route, because it seems the least preposterous. Yolks will remain whole—most of them anyway.
Brian breaks the eggs and I juice the lemons and before we know it everything is commingling merrily and Brian is covering the stock pot with a dirty-looking cloth the he insists is clean. He carefully places the pot on a dresser in his guest room, because he doesn’t want to explain all of this to his girlfriend, just yet. We peek inside to say our goodbyes to the goo, and decide to meet back here in “several days” to complete Phase 2 of the recipe, once the eggs and lemons are “ready.” It takes a leap of faith to leave eggs out in the summer Los Angeles air and expect to find something edible after several days. It takes a belief in magic.