Fricassee of Words – Are You a Good Egg?

Fricassee: Meat cut into pieces and stewed in gravy.

Fricassee of Words: Musings on food-inspired expressions, words and word play, with occasional bits and pieces of kitchen jargon too.

Don’t stir the pot, go fry an egg, two eggs in a basket are better than one hen in the bush… you get the picture by now, and here is today’s food-inspired expression for us to pick at.

158 - 1004 - egg

Are you a good egg?

Meaning – A person with good qualities, such as kindness.

We open the egg box we acquired at the grocery store and grab a couple for our morning omelette. Unless one is obviously damaged, we casually crack each egg on the side of a single dish and begin mixing. We take it for granted that those eggs are as perfectly fine on the inside as they are on the outside, and that is actually usually true.

If you dig up older cookbooks, even some dated as relatively recently as the 1960’s, you will likely come across uncommon instructions about mixing eggs. The authors often warned their readers, who were expected to be “ordinary house wives” at the time, to never crack two eggs in the same bowl, lest a spoiled one spoil the entire recipe.

The thing is, and those who raise their own chickens know this, you can’t tell a good egg from a bad one just by looking at it. We owe the “quality” of commercially produced eggs to rigorous quality-control practices and a lot of biological engineering. We are not here to discuss GMO’s, but you can see how the practice may engender misleading appearances.

This is precisely where being a good or bad egg as a person fits in. You cannot be certain of the inner values and qualities of a person until you “crack the shell,” so to speak, and become familiar with their true behaviors and beliefs; their true nature.

Some food expressions find their origins in mystical, historical events or traditions. The good egg expression has a simpler, more spontaneous origin. It sprang from a natural analogy. However, we can still take it a bit further.

The egg shell actually forms in the last moments before the hen releases it, and it hardens after she lays it. If we take the analogy further, we can see how a young, still innocent child is more likely to be a good egg than a person who had time to experience life and harden their disposition.

In other words, we are all born good eggs… until we harden our shell and even we forget what was on the inside.

Discuss over Eggs Benedict or an Omelette at 158 Main.

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