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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Perfect Egg – a book review

Blaise White was reading this book in Norway during the summer, so when I saw it on the counter at my local bookshop I bought a copy. The full title is The Perfect Egg and Other Secrets. Aldo Buzzi first published it in Milano in 1979 and it was eventually translated into English in 2005.

I suppose it’s a recipe book. But the recipes are intertwined with personal anecdote and a languorous memoir dredged from various travels and visits to towns in Italy and America, or to historical figures from the early civilizations of Greece and Rome, to antiquity and all the other ages that our forefathers inhabited.

There’s something surprising or engaging on every page. This is culled from page 70:

(The American Red Indians) method of finding their way through the most intricate forest, even after dark, was legendary. Moreover, not many years ago a redskin from Springs (New York), Steve Talkhouse, was offered a lift by a white man in his motor car and told him: ‘No thanks, I’m in a hurry.’

By which he meant that, following the tracks through the woods and fields, which only an Indian would know of, he was sure to reach his destination ahead of the motorist.

The book is a gourmet’s delight, erudite, entertaining and frequently fascinating. You’ll learn how to cook Sopa de Lima and discover what the ancients had for lunch. Oh, yes, and how to cook the perfect egg.

Here’s another snippet:

Let us remember, finally, that dieting is not simply a matter of what one eats. As Mességué says: ‘A good stew eaten among real friends goes down a lot better than a forlorn diet-leek soup eaten alone in the kitchen.’

High spirits at table are a vital requisite for good digestion. Court jesters sat at the king’s table for precisely this purpose. A wise institution. The opposite of our business lunch today, an institution devoid of wisdom, unless we look at our fellow-diners and see clowns.

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