Sunday, November 18, 2007

Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee Beans...

I saw this on the blog Gathering Manna today, and felt the need to share it since I've been having a rough week, dealing with what seems like adversity everywhere.
A young girl's mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about 20 minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked,
"Tell me what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft and mushy. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What's the point, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: the boiling water. Each item reacted differently to the adversity it faced. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Here is another way to think of it:
Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
Today, I feel like the biggest of all ostrich eggs. It feels like I've been rolled and throttled and thrown about so much lately that I have no real choice but to ball up and harden to the world around me. It feels like it has always been the best way for me to deal, take myself away from the situation, ignore the blows that follow and battle through.
The problem with eggs though, even hard-boiled ones, is that they can still be cut. Deeply and fully. And though they do not melt to the blade's contact it does not mean that they are not changed or hurt by it's actions.
Though I know that when I do feel down and unable to make things right in my world, sometimes the kitchen can bring about a bit of comfort that seems otherwise absent. Warm bananas with a brown sugar caramel and a hint of espresso can begin the inner healing, whether it's from the cold weather or a different hurt.

Java Bananas
Serves 2 as dessert, 4 as an accompaniment
1 tablespoon butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 tablespoons brewed espresso
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet with the vanilla.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar, and add the banana slices.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the bananas begin to sizzle.
  4. Add the coffee and continue to cook until the juices condense to a thick syrup. Avoid stirring the bananas.
  5. Instead, tilt the pan and spoon the sauce over the bananas as they cook.
  6. Serve on it’s own as dessert or over vanilla yogurt or ice cream.


  1. Beautiful post. Now I'll have to ponder and figure out who I am. I'd like to say coffee, but....well, maybe sometimes. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lovely story! I saw this years ago and really liked the message it has. I have almost used it as a visual teaching tool, but have yet to prep it all for that.
    And thanks for the recipe with bananas! I am on the last of my 125 pounds of plantains and I am sure I could figure out how to use some plantains in this recipe!
    Happy Thanksgiving!


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