Just so we are clear: I LOVE THIS BOOK.
My mother got this when I was very little. Possibly from the milkman (who used to sell eggs) or possibly by saving up coupons on egg boxes. I can't remember and neither can she. It was produced by the British Egg Marketing Board, which Wikipedia says was set up in 1956 to encourage sales of eggs. These were the people who started printing lion logos on the egg shells as a mark of quality. The book was published in 1969, and the organisation folded in 1971, so I feel like it is an heirloom to be treasured. I also thought that about the Golden Hands Encyclopedia of Crafts which my mother sent to jumble, but that's another story. Humpf.
This book has everything you could possibly want to know about eggs, what they are, why they do what they do (thicken, bind, emulsify...). It tells you what you can do with them, and there are little anecdotes scattered throughout the pages (like this quote from Mark Twain: "nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs". Isn't that great?). It is illustrated with photographs of beautiful plasticine models, like that chicken on the cover, and wonderful Seventies drawings like this wizard demonstrating the art of whipping egg whites...
There are little mini-chapters on how to do basic things like how to cook eggs as eggs (I mean boiling, poaching, scrambling...), different sorts of omelettes, custards (which is where I went for the Donauwelle ), batters, souffles... and then a set of recipe chapters divided into the standard titles like Soups ans Starters, Cheese, Desserts etc.
Why do I love this book so much? It has all the basics. It has nice straightforward recipes (apart from a few Seventies odd-balls). I grew up with it. It is laid out nicely (I have a thing about layouts, but I won't bore you). But mostly because it is, for me, an epitome of the Seventies. Call me odd but I never thought that it was a decade for time to forget. I always wanted to be the girl in the balloon eating Nimble bread, or the girl with flowing hair in the hay field drinking Eden Vale Drinking Yogurts which came in a plastic pot shaped like a medieval goblet. As a small child looking on, it was a decade of exuberance, bright colours, flowing dresses, and romance (of an Eden Vale Drinking Yogurt kind) (oh, and Marc Bolan). And this wonderful book sums these things up for me. In the images, in the writing, and even in some of the recipes.
How can you not fall for pages like these...
I wonder what all those kids are doing now.
Theme and variations, and what-went-wrong guides.
Illustrated recipes with variations.
And plasticine models. Of course.
Some of the information may be out of date, the recipes may occasionally vere towards Fanny Craddock, the images may be dated (but in a good way), but I still use this book regularly, I still make dishes from it, and I can't see myself stopping any time soon.
The one sad thing? It doesn't have an ISBN number (or at least I can't find one), so there is no official copy somewhere in the British Library to be saved and loved and cherished by generations to come. Am I over doing it? Exaggerating even? Perhaps, but it is an egg cookery book.