This is Gwendolyn MacEwen’s recipe for eggs. And she is adamant that these eggs be Kanadian “not Zeus or Easter Bunny” (31). Why Kanadian eggs? Margaret Atwood, who collected MacEwen’s recipe for The CanLit Foodbook: A Collection of Tasty Literary Fare, provides a helpful editorial note.
This is an “anti-mythological variety of egg, which, however, can cross the line and become a REAL or mythic egg if you can manage to achieve the right frame of mind”(31).
This is a lot to take in before breakfast. I say, eat the egg while it’s hot and then we’ll talk about it.
Atwood’s commentary guides our consumption (eating/reading) of this and other recipes in this anthology/cookbook. As filling and as fulfilling as it is to cook from it and eat the results, Atwood is asking us to consider its writer’s poetic interests. This is literary fare after all.
These Kanadian eggs, are somehow tied up with MacEwen’s preoccupation with “the real, unexplored country which lies within the country we think we have conquered” (Colombo 65). Such is MacEwen’s own description of her work in Colombo’s Rhymes and Reasons and I think it works well within this context.
We may have conquered fried eggs – a dish requiring minimal ingredients, equipment and time – but what of the Kanadian that precedes it? And why the K? Because this quick substitution – C for K – forces readers to pause, or perhaps it gives them pause to think about how nation and eggs come together. This pairing has something to do with the lived realities of Canadians: what they eat and how and why. But if you’ve taken to wondering about the myth-making of national cuisine, here are a few recommended readings:
Kinneally, Rhona Richman. “‘There is a Canadian cuisine, and it is unique in all the world’: Crafting National Food Culture During the Long 1960s.” What’s to Eat? Entrées in Canadian Food History. Ed. Nathalie Cooke. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009. p. 169. Print.
Wilmshurst, Sarah. “How to Eat Like a Canadian: Centennial Cookbooks and Visions of Culinary Identity.” CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures / le journal des études culinaires au Canada. Volume 4:2 : 2013. web.
Gwendolyn MacEwen’s Kanadian Eggs, Fried Sunny Side Up
I leave it to you to figure out the requisite ingredients and instructions on this one. Suffice it to say, egg meets hot, buttered pan.
Colombo, John Robert. “Gwendolyn MacEwen.” Rhymes and Reasons: Nine Canadian Poets Discuss Their Work. Toronto: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1971:65-72. Print.
MacEwen, Gwendolyn. “Kanadian Eggs, Fried Sunny Side Up.” The CanLit Foodbook: A Collection of Tasty Literary Fare. Ed. Margaret Atwood. Toronto: Totem Press, 1987. p. 31 Print.
Photo Credit: Alexia Moyer