Angelia McLean: Country Mouse City Mouse 4-11-11
April 11, 2011
As if we need reminding on what we like to eat, there’s an organization marketing all kinds of agricultural products: The Beef Council (“It’s what’s for dinner”), National Dairy Council (“Got Milk?”), The Pork Board (“The other white meat”), National Association of Wheat Growers (“Advancing wheat though innovation and advocacy”) (not a very sexy promotional line …), American Soybean Association (“You can’t always be here but ASA can”) referring to Washington, D.C. representation. (Boring …) and I thought I’d just try a real out-there one like Kumquats … they were under the umbrella of Citrus Growers. (Darn). And I’m sure I missed quite a few others but you get the point.
But there’s one agricultural product that should have “Rock Star” status or be under the Association of “Her Royal Highness.” Too much? Well, this humble little thing is probably the best agricultural invention since Jell-O. I present to you “The humble egg.” It needs a more robust jingle though. Not the trying-too-hard-to-rhyme: “The incredible edible egg!”
Every time I collect one of our chicken eggs, I not only think, “Well, it’s about time, ladies,” I also think just how incredible and extraordinary this oddly shaped, edible thing is. It is one thing to pick up a carton at the grocery store and another to pick one up in your garden. There is no connection to the store bought ones. It is like buying laundry detergent; it does its job and that’s about it. But when you can actually watch one emerge from a chicken with a resounding “clunk” it takes on a whole new dimension. The potential has now become limitless: Cooking, baking, boiling, frying, and throwing them at a neighbor! See? Endless!
I have taken the egg to another world. The Fairy World. (Let me explain before you roll your eyes and move on.) Over 45 years ago, my mother decorated all kinds of eggs with diminutive scenes inside. These would come out this time of year and hang on a beautiful manzanita branch. I could look inside and see tiny figures, little flowers or birds, hinged “doors” and beautiful bead patterns and trim. We would take trips out to see different suppliers of goose eggs, emu eggs, and duck eggs with speckles; all a potential canvas for a piece of art. I still recall her cheeks and face a beet red as she blew out the egg contents. After awhile, she didn’t make these anymore and I thought the world had lost a beautiful artisan.
Having my own chickens laying eggs that are beautiful browns, green or small and odd just inspire me to pick up the tradition where my mother left off. She’d given me all her old boxes of bugle beads, trims, costume jewelry, pearls, etc., and I still have some large goose eggs now close to 50 years old. Mine have taken on a different theme, though. I create tiny fairies from HO scale body parts and snip tiny gossamer wings and place them along a small deer, pond or swan inside my cut-out eggs. I, too, decorate the outside but am more conscience of the natural beauty of the egg so only the openings have decoration. Not a lot of people have seen pinkish or green eggs besides Dr. Seuss! They’re a work of art by themselves.
Sunday mornings are my husband’s favorite day to get up, get coffee going and make breakfast for everyone. And usually eggs are on the menu. No longer needing to spill your brains from blowing out the eggs, he uses an ingenious contraption that blows air into a tiny hole and all the egg stuff comes out to be soon scrambled for breakfast. I have way more eggs waiting my attention than I have time, but their patient presence reminds me of all the potential the egg has.
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So, yes, there is the American Egg Board, The Egg Safety Center, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, Poultry and Egg Export Council, L’eggs Pantyhose (paying attention?) and the usual hand-wringing councils that determine if eggs are bad for you, good for you or will poison you. I prefer to create my own councils of which I’m the boss. How about Council of the Fairy Egg Kingdom? Backyard Chickens Unite! Green Eggs and Ham Board. Eggs R Us. Or Chickens for the Right to Wear Pantyhose! Never look at an egg the same way again.