When we were younger, my sister and I often had to, as my dad described it, “fend for ourselves” while my parents were at work. Back in those days, no one trusted me with anything stove-related, so my sister used to make us simple dinners. I affectionately remember these dishes as “spoon food,” saucy curries or simple scrambled eggs and tomatoes atop a bed of rice, perfect for eating with a spoon. Rather than mac n’cheese or pizza, spoon food was our family’s comfort food.
Oyakodon is the epitome of spoon food. I first experienced oyakodon at Porter Exchange, an enclave of Japanese restaurants underneath Lesley University. It was love at first sight, or rather, first bite. The meat was tender, the eggs half-cooked and runny, and there was an undertone of sweetness in the sauce, perfectly balancing the otherwise salty dish. It quickly became one of my favorite Japanese-style comfort foods.
In Japanese, oyakodon means “mother and child.” If you think about it literally, you’re eating the mother and her child, but the more socially acceptable spin is that the dish is a harmony between the chicken and the egg, an ode to the eternal question of which came first.
I also like to think that “mother and child” refers the tradition of a mother passing her culinary secrets onto her child. Some of my favorite dishes are the simple ones, like the roast chicken my mom used to make every year for my birthday, the sausage pasta sauce that my dad whips together on a busy weeknight, or the green curry my sister used to make. In my childhood, these dishes seemed like magic to me, and my parents the wizards who could control fire. Even now, these childhood comfort foods are special.
So as I head off into my last year of college, I (and basically every other young adult) am trying to figure out what I want to do, and who I want to be. It can be pretty scary stuff, but at least after all the jobhunting, the interviews, and hopefully settling into a new place in a new city, my oyakodon and all my other spoon foods will be there to warmly encourage me to face the next chapter of my life.