Three cheers for the humble egg! An object of such simple beauty. It has been recognised across many cultures and belief systems for thousands of years as a universally positive symbol of spring, fertility and rebirth. Much like pottery, eggs are both incredibly strong and fragile. Able to transform materially with heat to be recast into a different form with a new purpose – an omelette, meringue, a jar or plate.
Variations on a theme of egg
I’m in the habit of keeping at least a dozen eggs on hand in the kitchen - probably the legacy of running a restaurant. They are ingredients in so many dishes, savoury and sweet. I really ought to keep hens! If I did have a ‘peep’ of chickens, they would have to live in their own house rather than under the kitchen table, as was the norm not so many generations ago. Our forebears did however have a great ability to use what they had to hand. In springtime, as their hens responded to the longer and warmer days and started to lay more, they would have been inspired to celebrate this, and come up with fun, egg-centred diversions, many of which are due a revival.
Definitely less dangerous than cheese-rolling is egg rolling – a competition to see whose decorated egg rolls the furthest – sometimes down a slope or pushed along the grass by a spoon. The winning, but more importantly surviving eggs are then eaten over the Easter weekend. It turns out this tradition is still alive at the White House, where there has been an annual egg roll on the lawn hosted by the President since 1814.
Tip-toeing on eggshells
We’re familiar with the fox-trot, the camel walk, the mashed potato but the… hop-egg!? Egg dancing is another rather neglected, eggy sport for this time of year. While I like the thought of the delicate and fancy footwork of the dancers who try not to crush any eggs that are laid out across the dancefloor, I’m slightly less keen on the prospect of the gooey and crunchy aftermath. I’ll be trying it out with the grandkids this year to see if it’s worth the mess!
Hide and seek
I know hunting for eggs is very much part of today’s Easter antics, but I would like to applaud the magic and wonder of the process of creating a hunt – it’s not all about the pursuit and discovery of concealed treasure. In recent years I’ve become more involved and hidden home-baked cookies instead of shop-bought goodies. Marzipan shapes also work well as trove, as does a tray bake divided into smaller pieces. Wrapped in greaseproof paper and twine your little parcels of edible riches can be hung decoratively from branches as well as hidden in the undergrowth amongst the daffodils. Making your own booty is a good way to cut out quite a bit of packaging that surrounds Easter sweets, as well as to offer alternatives to chocolate just in case you have one of those rare creatures in the family - a choco-hater. And, even if there are no kids around as an excuse to do so, I invite you to indulge in the mystery of a hunt and to set up your own with whatever treasure you fancy.