“In cooking – as in almost everything else – it all starts with an egg,” says Ruth Reichl. A chef, restaurant critic, food editor and all-round culinary pioneer for the past five decades, her views on the humble oeuf couldn’t be more accurate.
Whether your preference is poached, fried, scrambled, boiled, or one of the other myriad ways to cook eggs, their versatile nature has seen them become one of the most universal household ingredients over the years.
On a deeper level, the egg has come to symbolise everything from purity, fertility and fragility, to unrealised potential and the circle of life. They were used by the Romans to dispel evil spirits, modelled as priceless artifacts for the Russian nobility, and woven deep into Egyptian mythology.
All of this, and more, is explored in a new book from food and culture journal, the Gourmand. Edited and art directed by the magazine’s founders, David Lane and Marina Tweed, Egg is the debut volume of its new book series with Taschen.
Follow up editions currently in the works are rumoured to take a look at the culinary and cultural history of both the lemon and the mushroom, but egg connoisseurs will have plenty to crack into in the meantime.
Featuring a collection of original essays and archetype recipes, the tome includes contributions from Reichl herself, who has written the foreword, and Australian-born, London-based writer Jennifer Higgie.
Inside its pages you’ll find a deliciously diverse array of imagery, including exclusive commissions by photographers such as Bobby Doherty, as well as egg-themed works from art history giants including Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo.
In a chapter titled In Your Face, we hear about the advent of egging as a form of protest, while elsewhere the authors address Alfred Hitchcock’s admission that he was terrified of eggs, and even tackle the perpetual chicken and egg question: which came first?
And if all the egg chat makes you peckish, there are an array of classic recipes from around the world for you to try your hand at – from the Scotch egg to the Spanish tortilla. Eggcelent!