Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Consider the egg

In marble halls as white as milk,
Lined with a skin as soft as silk,
Within a fountain crystal clear,
A golden apple doth appear.
No doors there are to this stronghold,
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold.

Eggs are in the SA news this week. Big eastern-states producers are deliberately swamping the market with inferior and stale but incredibly cheap eggs at prices with which the local producers can't hope to compete. It's something to do with differing State regulations; nobody seems to be quite able to provide a clear explanation of what the problem is, but the local egg producers were out in force yesterday, showing their displeasure outside Parliament House and being, erm, egged on by Independent and parliamentary gadfly Nick 'No Pokies' Xenophon.

And today the Advertiser is running a shot of legendary local chef Cheong Liew holding a frypan with a fried egg in it in each hand. On the left we have the yucky, watery, tasteless, stale and badly shaped 'imported' Queensland egg, and on the right, the richly coloured, perfectly round and yummy-tasting local free-range product from down the freeway on the fertile and gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula, home to some of the great wines of the world.

So today I went to quite a lot of trouble to make sure that the eggs for the mayo for the Christmas Day deluxe potato salad, and for the custard for the Christmas Day deluxe trifle, were local and fresh. (I wouldn't put it past my sisters to start agitating for devilled eggs as well, which means that by Boxing Day we'll have used up our cholesterol quota until Easter.) On either side of me in the supermarket, fellow punters were scanning the sides of the cartons for the same information.

The general consensus is that the eggs rolling in from the eastern states are crap and that most loyal South Australians are prepared to stump up quite a bit extra to support the local product, especially as it's manifestly fresher and better. But if free trade prevails and the SA producers end up going under, I'm going to have to take extreme measures and revert to my rural childhood. I've got a great big back yard and there is absolutely nothing to stop me (I know this because the bloke next door has chooks, so clearly the council doesn't mind) from clearing a patch of it, building a coop, and acquiring half a dozen little clucky ones of my own.


elsewhere said...

Forgive my ignorance but did you write the poem or is it by some notable Victorian poet? It's like something one of the poetesses write in A S Byatt's _Possession_

Pavlov's Cat said...

I wish I had written it!

Good call re Byatt -- Christabel 'writes' something that's a recognisable pastiche of it. But in this form, it's an old nursery rhyme/riddle thingy. I tend to get it mixed up with 'I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls' (speaking of Enya).

Just spent ten mins unsuccessfully looking for the egg-riddle in Possession. Memo to self: haven't you got anything better to do??!

elsewhere said...

I was thinking maybe Christina Rosetti, actually.

I remember the sinister 'dolly' poem in _Possession_ but not the egg one.

Pavlov's Cat said...

The Christabel character in Possession is a pastiche of C. Rossetti and one or two others, if I remember rightly. It's not a poem, but part of a letter to the Ash/Browning character, in which C is clearly talking about this egg riddle. 'Here is a Riddle, Sir, an old Riddle ... a fragile Riddle, in white and Gold but with life in the middle of it. There is a gold, soft cushion ... enclosed in its own crystalline casket, a casket translucent and endless in its circularity, for there are no sharp corners to it, no protrusions, only a milky moonstone clarity that deceives. And these are wrapped in silk, fine as thistledown, tough as steel, and the silk lies inside Alabaster ... an Egg, a perfect O, a living Stone, doorless and windowless, whose life may slumber on till she be Waked -- or find she has Wings to spread --'

Lucy Tartan said...

There's the fellow in Ash's poem too who's doing something scientificky but deathly, not life-enhancing, with eggs - Maud's remembering of the messed-up bed post-Fergus as being like dirty whipped egg whites...I really love that book.

Lucy Tartan said...

oh -- and I think the current wisdom on eggs is you don't have to worry about cholesterol because the kind of cholesterol in eggs isn't absorbed by the body, or something like that.

I'm overlooking your slander against Victorian eggs, or possibly construing it as meaning that by the time Eastern eggs arrive in SA they've deteriorated. It's hard to see how it could be otherwise actually, distance is distance refrigerated cushy trucks notwithstanding and eggs are delicate things.

Pavlov's Cat said...

The truck ride, of course ... no, I was quoting Cheong Liew, who is a god, culinarily speaking.

Actually I believe Queensland is the worst offender (probably because it's furthest away, heh).