Tag: eggs

Seven eggs for a prince

Monday, 28 November, 2016 0 Comments

While watching the modest breakfast egg boiling, our thoughts turned to eggs royal and On Royalty. Jeremy Paxman claims on page 275 that “one of the prince’s friends” told him that after a day’s hunting, Prince Charles likes to have a boiled egg but is so fussy about its consistency that his staff routinely provide seven eggs, numbered according to cooking time, so that if number five is too soft he can move on to number six.

The story was denied by Clarence House, the Prince of Wales’s official residence and metonym for his private office. “It is not by chance that the boiled-egg story has been so much touted in pre-publication publicity for On Royalty: it is almost the only exciting moment in an otherwise dull tome,” wrote the hard-boiled Lynn Barber as she consigned Paxo’s book to the nesting box of hens and history.

Eggs


Breakfast with Bond

Tuesday, 10 November, 2015 0 Comments

When he’s not gallivanting around the world saving civilization from the likes of SMERSH and SPECTRE, James Bond likes to relax at home. The day begins with the same routine: breakfast, and every breakfast is the same: a boiled egg, two slices of whole wheat toast with marmalade jam and coffee. Ian Fleming describes this in great detail in From Russia With Love. The brown egg is boiled for three-and-a-third minutes before being placed in Bond’s favourite eggcup:

“It was a very fresh, speckled brown egg from French Marans hens owned by some friend of May in the country. (Bond disliked white eggs and, faddish as he was in many small things, it amused him to maintain that there was such a thing as the perfect boiled egg.)”

Marans hens, for those who don’t know poultry, originated in the département of Charente-Maritime, in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. In Fleming’s short story, 007 in New York, Bond’s passion for Maran eggs is such that he travels the length and breadth of the city in an attempt to track some down only to be told by a grocery store clerk, “We don’t stock ’em, mister. People think they’re dirty.”

Bond had better luck with eggs in the Big Apple in Live and Let Die. On the run from the evil Mr. Big, 007 “hides” at the St. Regis Hotel, where he orders a substantial breakfast: pineapple juice, cornflakes, eggs and bacon, toast with marmalade and a double espresso. Although he is in mortal danger, Bond does not want to face death over sunny-side up eggs. He insists instead on œufs cocotte à la Provençale.

Speaking of eggs and New York City, Paul Simon says he was eating in a Chinese restaurant in downtown Manhattan and there was a chicken and egg dish on the menu called “Mother and Child Reunion.” Simon: “And I said, I gotta use that one.”

The best boiled egg

“Have you ever seen a man, woman, or child who wasn’t eating an egg or just going to eat an egg or just coming away from eating an egg? I tell you, the good old egg is the foundation of daily life.” — P.G. Wodehouse, Love Among the Chickens


Edible Easter Leporidae

Sunday, 5 April, 2015 0 Comments

It was Georg Franck von Frankenau who first mentioned the traditional role of the Leporidae family (hares and rabbits) in connection with Easter. That was in 1682 and he was commenting on customs in Alsace in De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs). Fast forward to the 20th century and James Laughlin recalls Easter in Pittsburgh:

“I liked

Thanksgiving better be-
cause that was the day

father took us down to
the mills but Easter I

liked next best and the
rabbits died because we

fed them beet tops and
the lamb pulled up the

grass by the roots and
was sold to Mr. Page the

butcher”

Easter


From flash freezing to social freezing

Monday, 27 October, 2014 0 Comments

One of the joys of reading Steven Johnson’s How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World lies in the many ways the author riffs on the butterfly effect. For example, the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottomans marked not just the end of the Roman Empire and a huge setback for Christendom; it also led to an exodus of glass makers. Many of them found a welcome in Venice, but because their furnaces caused numerous conflagrations of the city’s wooden houses, they were exiled again, this time to the island of Murano, where they could do less damage. There, they flourished in a kind of watery Silicon Valley and came up with astonishing ideas thanks to their co-operation and competition with each other.

How We Got to Now One of these innovations plays a key role in Las Meninas, the great painting by Diego Velázquez. This Spanish masterpiece mixes reality and illusion and puts royalty in perspective by having the king and queen, Felipe IV and María de Austria, reflected in a mirror at the back of the room. The mirror was another Murano byproduct. By coating the back of crystal-clear glass with an amalgam of tin and mercury, the island’s glass makers created a shiny, reflective surface and the mirror was born.

Another example. In the chapter titled “Cold”, Johnson recounts the story of Clarence Birdseye, an eccentric American naturalist and entrepreneur, who moved his family to the Canadian wilds of Labrador in 1916. While fishing with some local Inuit, he noticed that the trout they pulled out of carved holes in the ice froze solid in seconds and tasted fresh and crisp when thawed out and cooked. He became obsessed with the puzzle of why ice-fished trout tasted better than the rest of the family’s frozen food and eventually figured out that it was all in the speed of the freezing process. Back in New York City, Clarence Birdseye created a flash-freezing food business and he sold his company for millions in June 1929, just before the Wall Street Crash. Today, Birdseye’s name is synonymous with frozen food.

The frozen food culture Birdseye created “would do more than just populate the world with fish sticks,” notes Johnson. The revolutionary thing is that “It would also populate the world with people, thanks to the flash freezing and cryopreservation of human semen, eggs, and embryos… Today, new techniques on oocyte cryopreservation are allowing women to store more eggs in their younger years, extending their fertility well into their forties and fifties in many cases. So much of the freedom in the way we have children now… would have been impossible without the invention of flash freezing.”

Seeing that companies are now promoting oocyte cryopreservation for their female employees, a more user-friendly term is needed for the process, hence, “social freezing.”

Steven Johnson’s How We Got to Now is nourishing food for thought.