This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Writing to you so lately I have no more to say now, but that I will pray for your good helth, and remayne, your ever loueing wife, Eleanor Watson. Rock-ingham, November 23. I have given bearer only Is".
It is an established fact that patients have been cured of obstinate obstructive jaundice by taking a raw egg on one or more mornings while fasting. Dr. Paris tells us that a specially ardent oil may be extracted from the yolks alone of hard-boiled eggs when roasted piecemeal in a frying pan until this oil begins to exude, and then pressed hard. Old eggs furnish the oil most abundantly, and it undoubtedly acts as a very useful medicament for indolent liver. The yolk consists in part of a variety of albumin, and therefore coagulates when heated, just as the white does, though in a less degree. But if the dry hard yolk is crushed, and digested in alcohol, it then becomes colourless in itself, whilst the spirit dissolves out a bright yellow oil, which forms about two-thirds of the weight of the yolk in its perfectly dry state. Thus the yolk, like flesh, and fish, is shown to consist of fat intermixed with a substance which closely resembles the gluten of plants.
What is termed a Bombay oyster is almost as delicious as the real bivalve, and is easily made: Into two teaspoonfuls of vinegar, with a pinch of pepper, and salt added thereto, break an egg, keeping its contents whole; add a third teaspoonful of vinegar, and the oyster is complete. Egg shells (particularly when the eggs have been subjected to glasswater for preservation), are found, if given in powder, helpful in cataract of the eyes, whether lenticular, or capsular; this is partly because of the sulphur which is present; likewise any sort of garlic is to be equally commended in such cases for the same reason. Though it may not be a sensible thing (Epicure, January, 1902), to teach one's grandmother how to suck eggs, yet it is quite possible to instruct that omniscient old lady how to successfully preserve them; the surest. method being to wet-pack them on the day they are laid, thus keeping them damp and fresh.
Custard Powders, so called, are sold as a substitute for eggs, but consist as to the majority chiefly of starch, to which a yellow colour is imparted by admixture with some vegetable dye, for instance, turmeric. Their nutritive value is not in any way equal to that of a genuine custard made with yolk of egg. In England it is customary to serve eggs in their shells, and it is considered bad form to extract the contents from the shells broken open at table; but, in America this latter method is general, and certainly more convenient to an invalid.
Sir Morell Mackenzie has recorded the striking circumstances which occurred in the family of a distinguished literary man, members of the said family throughout four generations being made seriously ill by eating an egg, or even a small portion of one, whether knowingly, or inadvertently; the fresher the egg, the worse the consequences! At all times eggs laid by fowls fed on garbage, decaying meat, and other such noxious food, are not fit to be eaten. The hen's egg is a good illustration of the fact that albuminous, or proteid food, is earlier in use for life development than starch foods. The body of the chick is formed (by warmth alone) from the yellow yolk; the white of the egg is almost pure albumin and water; whilst around all is the impenetrable shell, part of which has to be dissolved from within to form the bones. Albumin coagulates at a temperature of fifty-two degrees less than that of boiling water, so that eggs and food dishes made therewith, should be cooked according to this rule; otherwise the albuminous parts will harden on until leathery and indigestible.
The albumin of egg yolk is vitelin, which coagulates firmly at a lower temperature than the white, being supposed also to contain some casein.
Eggs fried in fat become inaccessible to the gastric juice within the stomach, and are therefore tardy of digestion; to wit, in the omelette, and the pancake when made without flour, but lemon juice sprinkled over either of these is helpful. An omelette differs from a pancake in not being thin, or browned, and in not being baked on both sides. It does not readily assimilate with sweet principles, except when fine fruit jellies are used instead of jams, or stewed fruit. Omelettes with coarse jams, simulating fine confitures, and savoury omelettes with all the whites of the eggs put into them, are inferior products of culinary skill. Former cookery books up to 1840 prefer the omission of half of the egg whites, because the preponderance of the yolks makes an omelette more tasty, more loose in its substance, and more tender. Indeed, Dr. Kitchener (Cook's Oracle) deems this suppression of half the whites so important that without it no omelette can be kept from proving hard. Scrambled or stirred eggs are a kind of spoiled omelette.
Mary Smith in her Complete Housekeeper (1772) gives an omelette as a " Hamlet," also Sauce Robert, as "Roe-boat Sauce," and Queen's Soup as "Soupe a la Rain." Thackeray when he invited schoolboys to dinner always gave them beefsteak, and an apricot omelette; generally as a prelude before taking them to see a pantomime.
Fresh Eggs, if coated by dipping in, or brushing over with water-glass (a dissolved silicate of soda in hot water, called also "mineral lime "), can be preserved almost indefinitely by the hard impenetrable protective glaze which is thus made to surround them. "This water-glass," says the Lancet, "is also a powerful antiseptic." Eggs treated thus will preserve their fresh milky taste for six months, and remain undistinguishable from eggs taken straight out of the nest. Ordinary egg shells,, when powdered, are remedial against goitre, or enlarged throat gland, which entails a general deterioration of the whole bodily system, nutritive and structural, (myxcedema, as this is called). Mix together three parts of powdered white sugar-candy, one part of finely powdered egg-shells (first dried in the oven), and two parts of burnt. sponge. Then let six or eight grains of the mixed powder (kept dry in a well-corked bottle) be taken in a dessertspoonful of water, or milk, at bedtime for a week together, and every alternate week throughout three months.