Some families have food traditions. In Lisa’s family, her mother makes hundreds of Vietnamese-style egg rolls from time to time. Earlier this year, Lisa had resolved to learn the unwritten “recipe” she helped with as a youngster. This was the week for the egg roll workshop.
I got in on the action, which occurred over two days and included a number of “unskilled” workers, namely, my granddaughters, Tom, Robin and I.
An Old, Unwritten Recipe
The first evening Lisa’s mother, Bay, and a niece visiting from California, arrived with the ingredients, which included 15 pounds of ground pork. The meat got several other ingredients added to it, including onions, carrots and mushrooms. Considerable time was spent combining the mixture in a plastic tub.
There was no written recipe. At one point, Lisa asked her mother if there was enough pepper in the mix. Bay gave it the smell test and announced more pepper was needed. I can’t season by smell, but apparently some people can.
Next Morning: Getting Things Rolling
Next morning, when I showed up a little after nine, the work of stuffing, rolling, and cooking was in full swing. I was assigned an “entry level” position usually reserved for kids, that of separating the egg roll skins, so they could be easily picked up by those who knew what they were doing.
Lisa: On a Roll!
As soon as I excelled at my task, I was promoted from skinner to stuffer. In my elevated position, I put a dab of ingredients on a wrapper—not too much; not too little—and packaged it into a neat roll, sealing the end with a dab of egg yolk mixture. A few of my poorly composed egg rolls had to be done over—Lisa’s mother is such a perfectionist! But I like that in an egg roll maker.
To keep us on task, Bay set out a platter of hot egg rolls from the first batch out of the cooker. In the course of my strenuous job as stuffer, I ate six of the crunchy little rascals—announcing after each one that I hadn’t had breakfast that morning.