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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Tomás de Iriarte (1750–1791)

The Eggs

From “Fables”

BEYOND the sunny Philippines

An island lies, whose name I do not know;

But that’s of little consequence, if so

You understand that there they had no hens,

Till, by a happy chance, a traveler,

After a while, carried some poultry there.

Fast they increased as any one could wish,

Until fresh eggs became the common dish.

But all the natives ate them boiled, they say,

Because the stranger taught no other way.

At last the experiment by one was tried—

Sagacious man!—of having his eggs fried.

And, oh, what boundless honors, for his pains,

His fruitful and inventive fancy gains!

Another, now, to have them baked devised—

Most happy thought!—and still another, spiced.

Who ever thought eggs were so delicate!

Next, some one gave his friends an omelette.

“Ah!” all exclaimed, “what an ingenious feat!”

But scarce a year went by, an artist shouts:

“I have it now! Ye’re all a pack of louts!

With nice tomatoes all my eggs are stewed!”

And the whole island thought the mode so good,

That they would so have cooked them to this day,

But that a stranger, wandering out that way,

Another dish the gaping natives taught,

And showed them eggs cooked à la Huguenot.

Successive cooks thus proved their skill diverse,

But how shall I be able to rehearse

All of the new, delicious condiments

That luxury from time to time invents?

Soft, hard, and dropped; and now with sugar sweet,

And now boiled up with milk, the eggs they eat;

In sherbet, in preserves; at last they tickle

Their palates fanciful with eggs in pickle.

All had their day—the last was still the best.

But a grave senior thus, one day, addressed

The epicures: “Boast, ninnies, if you will,

These countless prodigies of gastric skill—

But blessings on the man who brought the hens!”

Beyond the sunny Philippines

Our crowd of modern authors need not go

New-fangled modes of cooking eggs to show.