During my first Elternabend (Parent and Teacher Night, and yes I made a fool of myself by mixing up my sentence structure during the ‘hold the ball and introduce yourself’ game) at Kindergarten last week, we were told to bring in two ausgepustete eggs. Easter is approaching and now that we are Kindergarten parents, approaching holidays mean themed crafts and themed crafts require props like empty eggs.
Now, I am familiar with the whole empty egg thing. It is a feature of many cultures, come Easter. It was never, however, a feature in my household as a child (and I cannot help but suspect this might be because neither of my parents could be bothered emptying eggs, something I understand entirely). Because of this, I spent a few days pondering the mechanics of getting an egg’s worth of white and yolk out while leaving the shell perfectly intact in order to paint it. Many kind people offered advice (‘keep your lips firmly on the egg, surrounding the hole’) and my husband told tales of his own father’s apparently infamous ability to empty eggs at great speed by both blowing and … sucking out the innards. Imagine.
When the time came to blow the eggs out (I find that such an odd thing to say in English, I tend to exclusively use the German ‘auspusten’) I gave them to SG and said to him, ‘your culture, your tradition’ and he said gravely, ‘fetch me a needle.’ So I found a needle in a little sewing kit a friend had once lent me – I am, otherwise, not the kind of person who has a needle on hand – and we crowded around the kitchen table to watch it all unfold. The needle made a small, almost invisible hole in both ends of the rather large egg. SG hovered over a bowl and began the process.
The process, as it transpired, was a long one. The egg white and yolk came out excrutiatingly slowly, with SG’s face growing redder by the second. His hair began to appear dishevelled. Die Lüdde provided support, cheering, ‘you’ve got it!’ and ‘I love it!’ until finally the first egg seemed to be empty. It was rinsed out carefully and placed to the side. For the next egg, a nail was fetched. A larger hole was declared necessary. As it was gently tapped in, die Lüdde yelled out in a congratulatory fashion, ‘you nailed it!’ The nail, however, wasn’t delicate enough, and the egg cracked. Back to the needle.
To be honest, by this point, I was beginning to wonder whose idea all of this was. Who looked at an egg, the most breakable of foodstuffs, and thought ‘let’s empty it and paint it’. Of all the things one could paint, back in the day, to brighten the house up after a long, dreary, hideous winter, who looked at an egg and thought, ‘yes. Perfect.’
The third egg was needled and SG lowered himself once more over the bowl. His face reddened. A forelock of hair fell onto his lightly sweating forehead. The egg’s innards came out in globs. Die Lüdde watched on. I began to wonder what I could bake that required two eggs, and for how long an egg with a hole in the top could survive in the fridge. From the kitchen table, I heard the promise of, ‘now, if we look after these eggs and are really careful with them, we’ll have them for thirty years.’ I chose not to burst that particular bubble of his. I feel, somehow, as if we are destined to repeat this for the next decade or so.
Die Lüdde trotted off to kindergarten with two empty eggs, which have already been painted and are hanging on a branch in the classroom. And another new tradition has been born in our household; Papa hunched over a bowl blowing the innards of an egg out of a tiny hole. And people say Australians are crazy.