A short while ago I gave you a recipe for ‘Russian Eggs’ from the Fort Wayne Sentinel (Indiana) of March 21, 1911. The recipe was only one of a tempting selection of international egg recipes – too tempting not to give you this week leading up to Easter. I briefly had a silly idea of trying to find a recipe named for every country in the world to fill up the posts for the week, but I quickly realised that that was daunting, to say the least. So, for the time being, may I give you the balance of the column from the Fort Wayne Sentinel , as a start?
Eggs were held in great veneration by the scientists in ancient days, for to them they represented an emblem of the world. The shell typified the earth, the white the water, the yolk the fire, and under the skin at the end nestled the bubble of air. Eggs contain probably more nourishment for their volume than any other article of food, which may account for their worldwide popularity, each nation adapting them to their own use in connection with their national dishes and in numberless ways.
The traveler discovering them here and there is more or less unfamiliar guise secures the coveted recipe and bears it to his famous club cook, and behold: a sensation is created in the gastronomic world and the wraiths of touch, taste, and smell carry the news abroad. The cosmopolitan city has a new addition to its menu until it seems the old world can halve but little left to give the new in the way of novelty.
Delicately fry one slice of Westphalia ham, then mince it fine: break six fresh eggs and beat together, then scramble together with the ham: season to taste and serve with rye bread toast. Wash and carefully boil two quarts spinach, chop fine, drain and make a rich cream sauce for it: poach as many eggs as there are guests, mix the sauce with the spinach and lay the eggs on the top.
Boil six eggs hard, strip off the shells, cut in quarters and arrange on a dish. Make a sauce after this recipe: Take a half of a quarter pound of fresh butter and a tablespoon of flour, stir over the fire until it thickens, pour in slowly a pint of milk, which should be boiling, add the seasoning, boil five minutes, add the rest of the butter and a tablespoonful of minced parsley. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the eggs and pour the sauce over them; serve garnished with the parsley.
Butter a dish thickly with good butter, let it heat until the butter melts, break four eggs into it and sprinkle with white pepper and salt, laying thin slices of butter on top of each egg; put the dish in the oven and let it remain until the whites are set but not hard and serve quickly: garnish with parsley.
Put one pint of water, a teaspoonful of salt and four teaspoonfuls of vinegar into a frying pan and bring to the boil: break four eggs into separate cups, then turn them carefully into the boiling mixture without breaking the yolks: when poached lift onto a hot platter and have ready a sauce made of a half gill of cream, an ounce of butter, pepper, salt, and a pinch of sugar: serve at once.
Boil six eggs for ten minutes and when cold strip from the shell and roll them in a good forcemeat and fry in a very hot lard; drain and lay on the platter and turn around them a pint of rich brown gravy.
Boil six kidneys and six chicken livers and hearts with an onion and a spice bag, throwing off the water six times. Make a rich brown sauce, adding a little wine, and add the kidneys: our on a hot platter and place as many poached eggs over the top as there are guests.
Place on a platter large flakes of smoked salmon, scramble six eggs in butter, season and spread hot over the top of the salmon; serve hot.
Arrange hard-boiled eggs and cold boiled potatoes in alternate lay[er]s in a pudding dish with butter, pepper, and salt, and pour over the top sour cream enough to just cover the ingredients. Bake a delicate brown.
Cut three slices of bacon into dice and fry a delicate brown, then add two sliced tomatoes, one onion minced, six sliced mushrooms, pepper and salt. Stir and cook ten minutes. Break six eggs into a bowl, beat lightly with a fork. Put a small lump of butter into the omelet pan, and when hot pour in the eggs and shake gently until set, then turn on the other mixture and fold the omelet and serve quickly.
One delicately broiled slices of bacon, poached eggs are placed and covered with a rich cream sauce.
Needless to say that the best known egg dish of the country is the fried eggs served with fried ham, though the best known dishes of other nations find their way to all the menus of the best hotels and restaurants.
The interesting question of course is - what ingredient or method gives the nationality away in each of these recipes? How ‘authentic’ are they? Not at all, I would say, although the question raises the even more interesting one of ‘what does authenticity mean anyway?’