Friday, May 18, 2007

Gourmet Eggs and Giant Eggs.

Today, May 18th …

Peter Carl Fabergé was born on this day in 1846 in St. Petersburg, and he grew up to be the goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court of Tsar Alexander III. He is famous for the extraordinary handcrafted bejewelled Easter Eggs he created for the Russian royals, who gave them to each other as gifts.

In 1998, Fabergé was honoured by the famous London hotel, Claridges, during its centenary year. The focus was on the recreation of famous and fabulous dishes from historic events for a special “Taste of History” menu. At least one new dish was especially created for the centenary, and it was inspired by Fabergé’s exquisite jewelled eggs. Egg Fabergé consisted of a lobster mousseline stuffed with a quail's egg and garnished with a mosaic of macaroni and truffle, served on a nest of celeriac. An elegant, stylish dish for an elegant stylish hotel.

In medieval times, the feast was an opportunity to impress – a feast was as much about theatre (and propaganda) as about food, and often these were the same thing. At the end of each course, a ‘subtelty’ would be produced and paraded around the feasting hall. It might be a huge pastry sculpture of a castle complete with drawbridge and moat, or a stag in full flight which spouted red wine when it was ‘shot’, or an image of a saint. Whatever its actual form, it was a message designed to induce shock or awe in the guests. When they left the feast they were in no doubt as to the wealth, power, and superiority of their host.

Sometimes of course theatrical food was just fun. Style is all very well, but some celebrations demand size. Giant eggs seem to have been particularly popular, if the surviving references and recipes are any guide. Here is one from a fifteenth century German manuscript.

A dish made from 30 or 40 eggs
In order to make a dish from 30 eggs or 40 in form of one big egg, you must take two pig's bladders, one of them smaller than the other. Rinse them carefully inside. Then take the eggs, remove the shells, and separate the whites from the yolks. Take the small pig's bladder, mix the yolks and put them into the smaller bladder, until the bladder is full. Tie the bladder up carefully and give it into a pot. Let it boil, until the big yolk becomes solid. Then take away the bladder from the big yolk. Take the bigger bladder and cut a hole in it, big enough to put in the big yolk. Sew up this hole in the bigger bladder with the big yolk within. Then you have to mix up the white of the eggs. Take a funnel, put it into the opening hole of the bigger bladder and pour the white of the eggs on top of the yolk within the bigger bladder, so that the bladder is filled. Tie it up, put it into the pot and let it boil once more. The white of the eggs will boil around the big yolk, and there will be one big egg. You can serve it with a sauce of vinegar.

Monday’s Story …

Wonder(ful) Bread?

This Day, Last Year …

We found out a little about the history of coffee.

Quotation for the Day …

He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart. C.S. Lewis.

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