Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Robert St. John: A Blunt Request

 Everyone needs at least one friend who is frank and to the point. Someone who speaks their mind no matter what the consequence. A person who will call you out when you’ve done wrong. The guy or gal that will tell you exactly what is on his or her mind. I am blessed with several of those type friends. None are more “to type” than my friend, David Trigiani.

 I was in Jackson over the weekend, checking on our businesses up there and decided to check in on him before heading home. A longtime resident of Jackson, Trigiani is 82 but is in much better shape than most 60-year-olds I know (including me). His mind is as sharp as his tongue, and his tongue is razor sharp. When it comes to frank and to the point, he put the “ire” in direct. 


I have several friends who are unreserved and unequivocal in their frankness, none more so than my buddy, David. He tops the list.


I like to stay in touch with all my friends. David and I hadn’t seen each other for a while so I popped over to his house for a quick morning visit on Saturday before heading home. He had saved a newspaper article I was featured in, so we walked into his kitchen where he keeps the old papers fastidiously stacked in a neat pile beside the kitchen island. 


Three eggs lay in a bowl next to a skillet on the front burner of the stove. “Make me breakfast,” he said, in true Trigiani fashion. I don’t have many friends who would boldly blurt out a demand with such ease. But of the friends I do have that would do it, Trigiani tops the list. To be honest, it wasn’t a stern command, but a more of a lighthearted and joking request, stated frankly. He obviously was about to cook breakfast, I interrupted his morning routine, it would be the least I could do.


I grabbed a fork out of the drawer, cracked the eggs in a bowl, added just a drop of water from the tap, and looked for milk or cream in his refrigerator. I like to add a drop of milk or cream to my scrambled eggs. There was none. “I’ve got some truffle butter in the fridge, use that,” he said. Of all my friends who would have truffle butter in the fridge, Trigiani would top that list, too. 


I gently stirred the eggs with the fork. “Aren’t you going to whip them up?” he asked.


“No, I don’t want to incorporate air into the eggs. This is the way Julia Child taught me how to scramble eggs.” I waited for his query of how I came to have a discussion with Julia Child about scrambling eggs, but he was unimpressed. I will admit that the statement was partially ego-driven, because it would be too crass and obvious to say, “I actually had a couple of breakfasts with Julia Child, and we spoke about how to scramble the perfect egg.” But it was also a shot across the bow to let him know, “Hey, I got this. I can scramble an egg.”


Trigiani wasn’t concerned with anyone’s brushes with celebrity, he was more interested in why I wasn’t going to whip up the eggs. As the truffle butter melted in the skillet, I explained that I wanted his eggs to come out smooth and ribbony, not fluffy and airy. “It’s not an omelet at Waffle House where they put the eggs in a milkshake machine before putting them in the skillet.” He chuckled at that comment. I poured the eggs into the skillet and let them sit for a bit before drawing them into the center with a rubber spatula and tilting the skillet so the uncooked portion could reach the empty side of the skillet. 


“You’ve got the heat too high,” he said.


“I got this. Trust me.” Within a minute or so, the eggs were almost done. They still had a sheen on them. It’s the sheen that Julia Child spoke of that morning years ago. I didn’t mention that Julia was the one who gave me that advice, because it wouldn’t have mattered to Trigiani anyway. I removed the skillet from the burner, gave the eggs a flip and slid them onto a plate. Perfect. Smooth and ribbony. 

 Trigiani seemed pleased with the end result. “I didn’t know about not whipping the eggs and not incorporating air into them,” he said. I resisted pulling out the Julia card again, because he was obviously unimpressed. But I was surprised that he didn’t’ know this method of scrambling eggs. Trigiani is an excellent cook and spends a good bit of time in the kitchen cooking gourmet meals for friends, and for himself. Though he is Italian, and many Italians are in a constant who-has-the-better-food battle with the French (Trigiani comes down firmly on the side of the Italians), so maybe that explains his passe attitude towards the French method.


As we sat and visited at his breakfast room table, we spoke, as we typically do, about travel, friends, and food. Still no query from him as to how I came to have breakfast with Julia Child. She was a Francophile, so maybe that explains it. He enjoyed the eggs, so all was well. 


On the drive home I wondered what it was that brought out the request, or demand, or whatever it was, “Make me breakfast.” I know he follows my social media and last week’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were filled with posts from the photo shoot of my new breakfast cookbook. Was he testing whether I knew anything about cooking breakfast? Or had I just put him in the mood for eggs?


I have friends of all ages and from all walks of life. Trigiani would be my closest friend who is also an octogenarian. He’s one of my closest friends, period. But again, he acts and looks younger thank most 50 or 60-year-olds I know. His frankness and straightforwardness are usually pretty funny in a sweet, older, get-off-of-my-lawn kind of way. Once a waitress in a diner asked us if we wanted to hear the daily specials. Trigiani pointed to her heavily stained apron and said, “Why don’t you just scrape some of that crap off of your apron, put it on a plate, and serve it to us.” She laughed and gave it right back to him. Everyone needs a friend who can get away with such statements.


I write often about the Five Fs and the things that truly matter in life— faith, family, friends, food, and fun. Friends and food are a natural pairing in my life. When those two come together, fun— and sometimes breakfast— usually follows.



Perfect Scrambled Eggs 


3          Eggs, large

2 tsp    Half & Half

1 Tbl   Butter

Salt and pepper to taste.


Crack eggs in a small bowl and stir well with a fork until the yolks and whites have just incorporated. Do not stir too vigorously or you will add air to the eggs. Add cream to eggs and stir well. 


In a non-stick skillet over moderately low heat, melt the butter and tilt the pan to coat the entire surface. Add the egg mixture to the skillet. Using a rubber spatula slowly scrape the bottom of the skillet until the eggs begin to coagulate. Continue to carefully stir the eggs until they are “just done”. The eggs should be almost fully cooked and custard-like (Julia Child calls them “custardy lumps”) yet have a slightly wet and shiny sheen to them. 


Remove eggs from the skillet immediately and transfer to a plate (the eggs will continue to cook slightly for the next 30-45 seconds so it imperative to remove them just before they are done). Add salt and pepper to taste.


Anonymous said...

I love this column. My mother-in-law taught me to scramble eggs just like this 50 years ago when I was 19 and didn't know how to boil water or anything else about cooking. She didn't use truffle butter, though!

Anonymous said...

Gordon Ramsey has videos on how to cook scrambled eggs. Use this recipe with his method and you will have egg perfection.

Anonymous said...

“Why don’t you just scrape some of that crap off of your apron, put it on a plate, and serve it to us.”

Try that line with any of the help down at the Dew Drop Inn and if you are lucky the Daily Special wll be a coupla knuckle sammiches with a side of whoop@ss!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Stockholm syndrome. Take the abuse and justify it. As for the comment to the waitress, bullies find it easy to punch down.

Anonymous said...

The only point of this article was for Robert to brag about meeting Julia Child, brag about knowing how to cook scrambled eggs, and to brag about (and self-promote) his new cookbook. Another completely worthless effort from a master self-promoting braggart.

Anonymous said...

Great column this week

Anonymous said...

@3:15: This is the mildly joking way that real men used to talk, and those with a sense of humor enjoyed, until everyone became a fragile flower, and good-hearted ribbing became "violence", "micro-aggressions", or whatever today's chosen term might be.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the "mildly joking" comment is that those "real men" always seem to use it on people with no power. They don't make the same demeaning jokes to their bosses or those in authority.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was going to be about someone giving RSJ blunt advice
about the City of Jackson.

Regarding how to scramble eggs ... my Grandmother taught me at age six.

Never once did she mention "half & half".

Anonymous said...

Yet you read it, 3:36? And comment, smh. The whole profession and art of cooking is passed on tips/techniques and stories. Lighten up Francis, you don’t have to take side on everything.

Anonymous said...

Julia Child also demonstrated the perfect technique for smooth quiche custard, and the Dew Drop Inn makes the world’s best hotdog with canned chili on a stale bun. Fond memories.

Anonymous said...

Some of these same guys that used to verbally harass the help were known to play actual grabass jokes too.

Now that gets charged as a crime.

Still miss your male privilege to handle the help?

Anonymous said...

3:36 and yet you continue to read his columns and invest the time to complain about it. Wouldn’t you be better off not reading and not posting about it?

Anonymous said...

I love this column and am grateful for it. Robert removes us, however briefly, from the culture of violence and inhumanity into which our city has spiraled. His recipes are easy to follow and allow one to produce delicious, wholesome fare with local ingredients. In this day and age, the simple pleasure of a good meal, shared with friends, has become a rarity.

Anonymous said...

I like my scrambled eggs fluffy and airy. Luckily I don't care what RSJ or Julia Child think about my cooking.

Anonymous said...

@3:36... Point exactly to where Robert St John hurt you, please. Does it just pain you to know how successful he has been in the restaurant industry and how he is 100% self made? I bet that one burns going down, doesn't it? Dang have nots. lol

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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