Egging you on 

An over-easy take on the mighty oeuf

Regard the egg. En français: oeuf . And from that: oeuvre , meaning, one’s work, life work, especially if you are an artist, as in, hey man what’s your oeuvre?

For so many centuries and in so many cultures the egg has been such a powerful archetype loaded with pretty cosmic ideas – the seed from which any number of manifestations will spring; birth, rebirth and repetition; nest, womb and home; prosperity; and even the cosmos itself should it not be included in the above – that its iconic role these days comes off like a goofy joke.

Regard the egg: great Shakespearian actor reduced to an opening act at Yuk Yuks.

For unless you’re a painter or sculptor whose oeuvre happens to be "egg", the poor thing has pretty much been relegated to its annual cheesy Easter role as gooey sweet, foil-wrapped treat or yellow/purple, possibly cracked orb smudged with the fingerprints of the little hands that dyed it.

Compare that to the Cosmic Egg which rises to the surface of primeval waters where it is incubated, at least in Hinduism, by the goose Hamsa. Or the Shinto primal egg, which split into two halves, the lighter one turning into heaven and the heavier one into Earth. The Incas, the Dogon people of Mali, Celts, Finns and Egyptians have all held great and fantastic beliefs about The Egg.

But other than at Easter, time of spring and renewal and the above-mentioned kitsch, most of us these days don’t give a second thought to eggs as we zip them out of the cardboard carton and scramble, whip, beat or otherwise fold them into submission in some food form or another. About as cosmic as we get is wondering whether avian flu virus can be transmitted on eggshells.

But eggs – and by eggs I mean the common bird-lain variety – are pretty cool, mysterious things. And they certainly don’t need to be silk-lined, jewel-mounted Fabergé types to garner our attention. (By the way, these famous creations, made by the jeweler, Fabergé, for the nobility of Imperial Russia, were simply plain old goose eggshells dressed to kill).

Big egg shooters and tough factors

Most of us at some natural history museum or swap meet or another have held or at least ogled ostrich eggs, admiring their beautiful thick shells and impressive size. This king of eggs is usually about 7 inches long and 6 inches wide, containing the equivalent of two dozen chicken eggs. (Sympathies to the gal on the TV show "Fear Factor" who had to drink the raw contents of a whole ostrich egg. Yuk 2 .)

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