It’s the time of year when people show up at your house and you have to feed them, so I’ve been using my brief snatches of spare time to browse through cookbooks. One of my favorites (partially because it tends toward the impractical) is the venerable Larousse Gastronomique. One of the fun things about it, at least the old edition: it’s got a fair amount of food named after composers.
Most chef wannabes know about dishes named for Rossini: take just about any foodstuff, cover it with a Madiera sauce, and garnish it with truffles and sautéed foie gras, and voila! you’ve got [foodstuff] Rossini. But there’s more where that came from, and, oddly, most of them seem to be egg dishes. Here’s a few:
Oeufs Auber: Stuffed halved tomatoes with a chicken forcemeat mixed with chopped truffles. Top each tomato with a soft-boiled or poached egg. Make a velouté sauce (white sauce) flavored with tomato paste; at the last minute, add a julienne of truffles that have been cooked in sherry. Cover the eggs with the sauce.
Oeufs Berlioz: Make some oval croustades from Duchesse potato mixture, and brown them in the oven. Fill the croustades with a salpiçon of truffles and mushrooms blended with a thick Madiera sauce. Top each croustade with a soft-boiled or poached egg. Lightly cover the eggs with a sauce Suprême (velouté enriched with cream). Fill the middle of the dish with fried cock’s combs à la Villeroi (poached in court-boullion and dredged in breadcrumbs).
Oeufs Bizet: Butter individual molds and line them with finely chopped pickled tongue and truffles. Break an egg into each mold and poach them in a bain-marie. Cook some artichoke hearts in butter. Unmold the eggs and place one on each artichoke heart. Cover with a Périgueux sauce (demi-glace with chopped truffles). Garnish each egg with a slice of truffle.
Oeufs Meyerbeer: Garnish shirred eggs with grilled lamb kidney. Surround the eggs with a ring of Périgueux sauce.
I love offal, so that last one actually sounds pretty good to me. And the eggs Berlioz might make a fun weekend project the next time I’m in an Asian grocery that carries cock’s combs. But notice: every one of these composers has been dead for a century or more. All the composers who came after—what are they? Chopped liver? Literally? No, we have to fix this.
Eggs Carter: Break an egg into a pan with a multitude of other ingredients, and place on the stove. Continually and simultaneously vary both the temperature and the cooking time. The dish is done when the aggregate intervals of the other ingredients allegorically crush the individuality of the egg.
Eggs Ives: Cook the egg in water, clear water from a mountain lake that a dilettante might try to write a song about. Boil it—hard-boil it—until the yolk is a firm yellow globe—a sun shining on manly hearts with cleaned-out ears. Sissies like a runny yolk, but real beauty—natural beauty—is not to be found in liquidy prettiness—the pale imitations of the passing spectacle must give way to the hard truths of the soul. Emerson once said, “Yonder masterful cuckoo / Crowds every egg out of the nest.”
Eggs Feldman: Extremely soft-boiled. Durations are free.
Eggs Nancarrow: That’s huevos Nancarrow, you stupid gringo!
Eggs Partch: Build your own oven. Calibrate both the thermostat and the timer to non-Western scales of your own invention. Then bake the eggs at 943 degrees for 17,000 minutes, or until the yolks are set. Top each egg with a slice of peyote.
Eggs Rorem: January 23—Dinner at Lenny and Felicia’s with Judy Collins, Edward Albee, the Carters, Virgil, Gore, and Mayor Lindsay, who seemed to have wandered into the wrong apartment. Every course made from eggs, a typical Bernstein obsession that will burn bright and then fade by next week. At the end of dessert, Lenny pulls out a chafing dish and, with Hollywood flair, announces that he will make eggs in the true Parisian style, which he then attempts with American ingredients. When the Vicomtesse showed me how to make eggs, she only used Parisian ingredients. I know these ingredients exist, because I saw them when I was in Paris. I leave early, fleeing into the gray city snow. I must send an apologetic card to Felicia tomorrow. The snow makes one sad; the whole world looks fragile, like an eggshell.
Eggs Schwantner: Crack an egg into a crystal goblet. Run a moistened finger around the rim of the goblet until the egg is vibrating at the same frequency as background radiation from the Big Bang. Serve on a bed of maj7(#11) chords.
Eggs Strauss: Give an egg to a singer. Cover with the orchestra.
Eggs Zorn: Cook as many eggs as you like in as many different ways as you can think of. Serve them all on the same plate. Garnish with matzo.
Eggs Soho the Dog: Do a Google search for “egg recipes.” Pick the funniest one. Link to it. Repeat five times a week.
Who have I forgotten? Leave ’em in the comments, and I’ll post the most appetizing ones.