Two of my favorite books to read to my sons are about eggs. One is a classic, Bread and Jam for Frances:
It was breakfast time,
and everyone was at the table.
Father was eating his egg.
Mother was eating her egg.
Gloria was sitting in a high chair and eating her egg, too.
Frances was eating bread and jam.
“What a lovely egg!” said Father.
Frances the badger does not like eggs, or most other foods. She asks for bread and jam instead. But when she begins to receive bread and jam at every meal, Frances learns the perils of getting what you want. This book has so many things: charming pictures by Lillian Hoban, an amusing, yet gently instructive tale by her then-husband Russell Hoban, several songs about jam, and (as Kate Moses pointed out in her touching memoir Cakewalk) a story about food and its role in a happy family. My mom read this to us when my sisters and I were girls, and she made up tunes to go to the songs, just as I’ve done for my sons.
The second book was given to us by my sister Ruthie some years ago. It’s the deceptively simple Two Eggs, Please written by Sarah Weeks and illustrated by Doreen Cronin, the illustrator of the Click, Clack Moo books. It’s 2 a.m. in a downtown diner. A brown bear is in the kitchen, a red fox is out front. One by one, customers trickle in; they include a taxi-driving rhino, an upright-bass playing mouse whose band has probably just finished a set when the bar closed, a construction worker ram, and a homeless alligator and his pet snake. What do they all want? Two eggs, please. (And the “please” is pleasingly repeated.) They each get a nice, big cup of coffee but the egg orders are all different. The chef is shown breaking two eggs, one brown, one white, and both the same on the inside. The simple, timeless message told with charming pictures and few words moves me every time, and I only hope its deeper message is planted and growing inside my boys, even as they enjoy the simplistic portrayal of a late night diner counter.
I eat the same breakfast every morning: a cherry pomegranate toaster pastry and a cappuccino. About two hours later, I’m finally hungry for something more substantial, and that’s when I usually cook an egg. As often as we can, we get our eggs from one of Guppy’s preschool teachers, whose grandmother keeps chickens out in the country. Check out this yolk: half as high as a golf ball, and yellow-orange like a hot sun. These are eggs from happy chickens.
And from another recent morning, one of Guppy’s and my favorite second breakfasts: a bacon/cheese scramble alongside toast with a great deal of butter (hat tip, Mercy Watson books):
Note that I’m eating the heels of the bread, as the three other people in this family refuse to. Am I eating their leavings, or fortifying myself with the part of the bread that has the most nutrients?