This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
" Though many, I own, are the evils they've brought us, And royalty's here on her very last legs, Yet who can help loving the nation that taught us Six hundred and eighty-five ways to dress eggs!" That is what Tom Moore had to say in favor of France, and it shows that the invention of new ways of cooking eggs is a very old pastime. Some years ago a book was advertised in this country which gave recipes for 700 ways of cooking eggs and fish; perhaps, however, it was rather too much of a good thing, for it has dropped out of sight. That it was an old pursuit even in Moore's day is apparent from a review of a once famous cookery book in three volumes that was published in 1739, in Paris, of course, by one Marin, the Ca-reme of his day, the leader in a new school of cookery. " Marin was very strong on eggs - after meat, he averred, the most nourishing, assimilable and healthy of foods; the poor shared them with the rich, and the whole with the invalid. He therefore gave endless ways of cooking .them, and an infinity of omelettes. He even printed the menus of a dinner for twelve and a supper for seven, each of four courses, and all wholly and solely of eggs.
The dishes included skewered eggs, meringues of eggs, eggs as sole and as whiting, a hot pie of fresh eggs, which would lead one to fear they were not all so, but rather suited to the palate of the city dame in the old play, who liked the whites 'of a delicate blue.' She ought to have married the man who preferred his potatoes 'with a bone in them.' We light also upon eggs 'a la grand'mere,' the-mode of preparing which is not given - perhaps, it might be surmised, for obvious reasons; but no, all preconceived notions on the subject must be abandoned, because the dish figures as a hot entremets. The dinner contained twenty and the supper nineteen dishes of eggs, and the effect ought to have been to excite the state of mind shown by the parson in old Joe, who dined with the miserly squire who had a warren, and whose grace after meat ran: Of rabbits roast and rabbits boiled, Of rabbits cooked and rabbits spoiled, Of rabbits young and rabbits old, Of rabbits hot and rabbits cold, Of rabbits tender and rabbits tough, The Lord be praised we've had enough".
Hard-boiled eggs cut in halves, the yolks taken out, pounded with anchovies and butter, returned to the whites, smoothed over, decorated.
"Experiment by stewing all kinds of animal food in the bain-marie, and comparing the result with stewing in boiling or simmering water. A very simple and instructive experiment may be made by cooking an egg in a glue-pot or milk-scalder. Allow 6 or 7 minutes, instead of 3 1/2. A hen's egg cooked thus will be as tender and delicate as a plover's egg cooked as usual in boiling water. Besides this tenderness there is another practical advantage. A minute or two more or less, or even three or four minutes more, will not spoil the egg. The effect of overdoing an egg at the proper cooking temperature, 160 to 180 degrees, is rather curious. The white remains tender, but the yolk hardens, becomes harder than the white. I discovered this in making experiments on eggs. I found that the yolk of a hen's egg coagulates at a lower temperature than the white. In ordinary cooking this does not show itself, as the heat is not allowed sufficient time to penetrate the yolk. When I warmed an egg thoughout to about 140 degrees, and kept it at that temperature during several hours, the yolk became quite hard, while the white was only jellied".