No sound is more satisfying to my ears than the crisp cracking of a fresh egg’s shell on the side of my countertop. As the yolk sizzles on the hot pan, steam rising from the stove, my mouth waters in anticipation. The delicacy continues to cook, frying and bubbling. After watching the egg transform from a clear liquid to a white and orange beauty, I lift the pan up and slide the egg onto a plate. I sprinkle salt on it and sit at my big, wood dining table. My fork stabs the yolk gently, which runs faster than the wind. And then I take that first, delectable bite: the reason I keep eating this seemingly mundane food.

Eggs have always been a part of my life in one way or another. Growing up, my dad would always make me eggs. He is a former chef, so of course I took (and still take) advantage of that. When I was young, he would wake me up by saying, “What kind of eggs do you want this morning?” The smell of them cooking made my legs jump out of bed immediately. He would have my eggs ready on a plate, usually with a cream cheese-covered bagel or a butter-soaked slice of toast. To this day, even when my dad is tired, he will still get up and make me eggs if I beg enough. I think he likes using his skills to make his daughter happy and content.

My dad told me he had to learn to make himself eggs at age four, because living in a family of nine, it was every man for himself. Although I didn’t need to, this inspired me to learn how to cook my own eggs. Of course, there are so many varieties and different ways to cook them, so I decided to start with my favorite type at the time: poached. Their neat, round appearance and consistent, nourishing taste made me love them the most. My dad showed me how to fill the pan with water, heat it up, crack the eggs in, and let the hot water cook them. There was a special spoon in my kitchen we used to scoop up the egg with when it was finished, with holes to let the water drain out. Once I practiced it enough times, I often poached eggs for myself. It was the first thing I ever learned to make. My first step towards independence.

The next type of egg I learned to make was cheesy scrambled. My mom, another egg-lover in the family, taught me how to make them. She cooks them a special way, which I consider the best. She cracks the eggs in the pan before it heats up, adds whatever kind of cheese is in the fridge, dollops of cream cheese, heats it up and stirs. The result is lovely, gooey and soft, melting in my mouth every time.

I used to look forward to visiting my grandma every couple of months and watching her make eggs for me in the morning. She used a technique I’d never heard of: basting. After watching her make them perfectly for years, I finally asked my dad, “How do I make grandma’s eggs?” He showed me how to crack the eggs into a pan as if we were frying them, but then to cover them in a little water, causing the steam to cook them. It really is a science, I’ve realized.

I have yet to perfect a fried egg. Countless times I have watched my dad flip an egg into the air, and land it perfectly back into the pan—the yolk never breaking. Whenever I try to flip one it plops right onto its side, folding over and crushing the yolk. I feel so disappointed I don’t even want to eat it. I still have trouble attempting to make things that I know won’t turn out perfectly.

Over the years, my parents stopped cooking for me all the time, and eggs became the meal I could whip up in five minutes by myself. No matter the time of day or what was going on in my hectic schedule, I could rely on eggs to stock my body with some sustenance, quickly. So many people think eggs are a breakfast food. They are wrong! Eggs are a food perfect for any hour. I am very protective over my favorite food: many times I have heard a friend say, “I don’t like eggs.” My response is always, “You haven’t tried mine yet.” I put love into my eggs. I recognize their beauty and simple dignity. It’s the same with any food. Store-bought cookies are okay, but the machines that made them don’t care about what they’re making. That’s why homemade treats taste so much better: they are the result of someone’s love.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s poorly cooked eggs. For me, that means any egg with a white that is runny, any egg with a yolk that is completely hardened, any flavorless scrambled eggs with the consistency of a sponge. I have converted endless amounts of egg-haters to my side by showing them these aren’t the only options. Maybe my techniques are more detailed, but doing eggs the justice they deserve is worth it.

I admire the simplicity of eggs. They are adaptable, diverse, and easy to incorporate into any meal. That’s why I’ve always been drawn to them: I want to be like them. They don’t over-complicate things, they aren’t exclusive to one group of people, and they can be found almost immediately when you need them.

I give credit to eggs for my desire to be independent. Once I learned how to make them on my own, I felt ready for the world. I didn’t need anyone’s help. I had a skill I could use to feed myself and others easily, and I used it all the time. But then I remembered: other people taught me how to make those eggs. Total independency isn’t a reliable lifestyle. There’s always going to be things to learn from others around me, and always things I can teach others.

Although I’ll always be changing and growing throughout my life, I have a feeling I will never lose my affection for an egg, served with a sprinkle of salt and a whole lot of love.