Eggs in Fiction (and Bits and Bobs)

I covet this wonderful Lucien Freud still life that the
artist painted for the dowager Duchess of Devonshire
before she was dowagered. (I think I made that word up.)

Have you ever noticed the prominence of the egg in British fiction? It seems like everyone is always eating an omelet or scrambled eggs for dinner. I run across this all the time in my reading. And I think I notice it because I am not a particular fan of eggs for dinner. Even for breakfast scrambled eggs or omelets aren’t my favorite things. Maybe the presence of all these egg dinners says something about the characters and their lack of interest in food. Or maybe it says something about British cuisine in the dark days before Nigella and Jamie. But then again, before I lay this all at the feet of Her Majesty’s subjects I have noticed the prominence of the egg as a dinner in some older North American fiction as well. Maybe, before the days of factory farming made animal flesh so easy to come by, eggs provided more accessible protein?

How many times in the last 30 days did you have eggs for dinner?

In my last Bits and Bobs I wrote about being drawn into the first of Trollope’s Palliser novels. Turns out I had already read it. No wonder I was enjoying it. So I moved on to Phineas Finn, the second in the series. I am enjoying it, but I am not sure if I am going to like the political nature of the series. It reminds me too much of the omnipresence of politics here in Washington. Something I am trying to avoid. It gets me too worked up. I am to the point in my life where I wish I was one of those people who didn’t care about politics. One of those people who never votes and doesn’t know if the vice president is Joe Biden or Joe Bazooka. Ignorance would be bliss. But who am I kidding? Even writing that I don’t believe myself.

What I am Reading
Half way through Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. I have read all of her books and while I may have quibbles here and there, she really is a fine writer. And enjoyable to boot.

What I am Looking At
One of my more popular posts in recent days was the one with the picture of the bookshelves with all the bad/disappointing books. As if I didn’t already know, it confirmed that my readers are as snobby about books as I am. Hooray for us. Well good news. In preparation for a possible addition to our house, we are going through a stack of pages torn out of nine years worth of design magazines. The stack is about a foot and half tall and there are lots of bookcase pictures sprinkled throughout. So, I think critiquing photos of bookshelves is going to be a regular thing on My Porch.

It was as we were combing through the above mentioned giant stack of magazine pages
this week that I found the article that had the Freud egg painting in it. When I went
to scan the Freud image for this post, I noticed that the 2003 House and Garden (U.S.)
article about the Duchess also had two other egg pictures in it. So I had to include them here.

15 thoughts on “Eggs in Fiction (and Bits and Bobs)

  1. StuckInABook July 2, 2011 / 12:49 pm

    I'm actually about to make omelette for my dinner tonight! But I don't think I have done so for a while – mostly because it's not filling enough, rather than not classy enough.


  2. rhapsodyinbooks July 2, 2011 / 1:27 pm

    I would guess that eggs for dinner in Britain reflects the nature of dinner as “tea” rather than the large meal that turns out to be lunch. Personally I would have eggs for dinner frequently if it wouldn't clog up my arteries (because of course, how could you have eggs if you didn't load them up with butter and cheese and so on?)


  3. savidgereads July 2, 2011 / 1:33 pm

    I don't think I have ever spotted eggs in any british novels I have read… but maybe I am just naturally used to them as a fabric of daily life – I do think the british love a 'good egg' lol.

    I love Debo, look at her there, looking regal… with erm some eggs lol.


  4. Stacy July 2, 2011 / 1:35 pm

    We usually have eggs for dinner about twice a month whether we are having 'breakfast for dinner', chili rellenos, quiche or, one of my favorite all-time meals, fried egg on mac-n-cheese (which may sound disgusting but I think is yummy). My youngest on the other hand has eggs for dinner about 8 to 10 times a month because she has a grain allergy and if we are having dinner with some kind of grain, her favorite alternative is an omelette.

    But besides all that, I loved your question because one of my favorite recurring scenes in the series 'As Time Goes By' is when Jean suggests having scrambled eggs for dinner. Those are moments of pure cozy television bliss:)


  5. agoodstoppingpoint July 2, 2011 / 1:41 pm

    I'm American, but I've had eggs for dinner at least once in the past 30 days. I think it's more of a matter of scrounging around for something to eat, and I always have a carton of eggs in the fridge, so voila, weeknight sustenance. I do like eggs, so that helps too.

    – Christy


  6. Teresa July 2, 2011 / 2:15 pm

    I eat eggs for dinner frequently, mostly because they come in my CSA share. But I do enjoy having them because they're easy to do something with, and I wouldn't get enough protein without them. I also make lots of crustless quiches because they're an easy way to use up whatever veggies I have on hand, along with lots of eggs.


  7. Farheen July 2, 2011 / 3:08 pm

    Eggs are a major part of breakfast in the subcontinent; I guess something we inherited from the British.
    But an omelet on Sunday morning in heavenly, loaded with cheese,local herbs and spices. For dinner we have a local dish which involves cooking the eggs (in a scrambled sort of way) with potatoes (cut into small wedges). I think British writers have very elaborate descriptions of breakfasts. I am reading Very Good, Jeeves! and almost every other story starts with Bertie at breakfast!


  8. Jessica July 3, 2011 / 7:53 am

    I remember in From Russia with Love Jame Bond having his eggs boiled for eactly 3 3/4 minutes.

    I have eggs nearly every day, they are a great source of protein and they fill you up for ages. Great way to start the day


  9. music-books-steve July 3, 2011 / 4:28 pm

    Nothing is a better treat than going out for an evening meal and having brunch food – eggs, corn beef hash, bacon.


  10. Margaret Evans Porter July 3, 2011 / 5:46 pm

    I hardly ever eat eggs for breakfast, will often eat them at brunch, enjoy devilled eggs or egg salad sandwiches for lunch.

    Eggs for dinner/supper in the past 30 days?
    At least 7 times. But it might be as many as 10. Scrambled, omelette (total egg or egg whites), poached, egg puff, crepes (does that count?), and a dish called Scotch Woodcock (recipe


  11. chasingbawa July 3, 2011 / 6:14 pm

    I only notice eggs in my fiction when I'm hungry. Then I go straight to my kitchen and make an omelette. Probably for dinner too.

    I'm a big fan of Ann Patchett's novel so I'm really looking forward to reading her new one. There's been a lot of great reviews too.


  12. Susan in TX July 4, 2011 / 8:24 am

    Eggs for dinner is a rarity here – unless we are dining out. When we are traveling, it seems we are drawn to breakfast places for dinner (Friendly Toast in Cambridge, MA and Kerby Lane in Austin are hard to beat for omelets and pancakes! :) ) Being American, I have always wondered about the “egg cup” and prominence of eating boiled eggs out of them.
    Fun things to ponder today.


  13. Ti July 5, 2011 / 1:45 pm

    I eat eggs all the time for dinner. I know when I read Persephone books there seems to be a lot of eggs in the mix. I also notice a fondness for aspic.


  14. sarahsbooks July 7, 2011 / 9:26 am

    I do love toast and an omelette for supper, with cheese or herbs or wilted spinach or all of the above. Had one two weeks ago.

    But, soft boiled eggs, ugh. Love eggs benedict but the eggs must be well done!


  15. madbibliophile July 7, 2011 / 10:19 am

    Lol! Great point about eggs. I still remember, for some strange reason, a sentence in Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree series about Connie putting some eggs into a saucer to boil. I do love food featuring in stories though. I like my characters eating! J.K. Rowling does one of the best food scenes.


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