An unconventional history of the world’s largest cellular workhorse, from chickens to penguins, from art to crime, and more.
The egg is a paradox—both alive and not alive—and a symbol as old as culture itself. In this wide-ranging and delightful journey through its natural and cultural history, Lizzie Stark explores the egg’s deep meanings, innumerable uses, and metabolic importance through a dozen dazzling specimens.
From Mali to Finland, mythologies around the globe have invested the egg with powers of regeneration and fecundity, often ascribing the origin of the world to a cosmic egg. An oracle to Romans, fought over by Gold Rush gangs, used as the foundation of the Clown Egg Registry, and blasted into space, the egg has taken on larger proportions than, say, the ovum of an ostrich.
It has starred in global dishes from the Korean comfort food ttukbaegi gyeranjjim to the less regaled yet iconic soft-boiled egg. Stark writes a biography of French-born chef Jacques Pépin through his egg creations, and weaves in her personal experiences, like attempting to make the perfect omelet or trying her hand at pysanky—the Ukrainian art of egg decoration. She also explores her fraught relationship to the eggs in her body due to a familial link to cancer, and shares her delight in becoming a mother.
Filled with colorful characters and fascinating morsels, Egg is playful, informative, and guarantees that you’ll never take this delicate ovoid for granted again.