Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/111

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99
EGGS IN CHEMISTRY AND COMMERCE.

brain-work to do. The sulphur in the yolk, as is well known, acts chemically on silver spoons, turning them black, forming a sulphide of silver that can not be removed without taking off the surface of silver, thus rapidly wearing the spoon away.

Eggs, although of animal origin, are now allowed to be eaten by Catholics during Lent. But it was not always so: formerly eggs never figured on the tables of the faithful during the fast; but, on the Saturday previous to Easter, a great quantity of eggs, held over for six weeks, was blessed and distributed among friends on Easter Sunday. They were dyed yellow, violet, and especially red, hence the origin of the red or Easter eggs. In the reigns of Louis XIV and XV, after grand mass on Easter-Sunday, pyramids of eggs gilded were taken to the cabinet of the king, who distributed them to his courtiers. The custom of Easter eggs is continued to the present time, although modified. Easter eggs are no longer blessed nor gilded to be offered to sovereigns, nor are they held over to Easter eve to receive brilliant colors. A fortnight before Easter, in the coffee-houses and beer-shops of Catholic cities, may be seen huge dishes of eggs of various colors, which are eaten by the customers with their beer. And in families a hard egg is added to the salad, after removing the colored shell.

The mutual presentation of colored eggs at Easter by friends continues in Russia and all Catholic countries. Fowls' eggs variously colored, and having flowers and other devices upon them, formed by the coloring matter being picked off, so as to expose the white shell of the egg, are a part of all the Malay entertainments in Borneo.

The eggs of the domestic fowl are the edible eggs par excellence, but many others can be utilized for food. The egg of the goose, which is larger, is inferior in quality; in districts where geese are bred they give, however, some benefit. The egg of the duck, with a smoother shell, smaller and less rounded, is of a greenish or dark white, the yolk is larger and of a deeper color than that of other poultry eggs, and the white by cooking attains a consistence like transparent isinglass. The egg of the pea-fowl or guinea-hen has a thick and hard shell, flesh-colored; the yolk is proportionally much larger than the white.

The common wild or gray lag goose is the origin of our domestic goose. It used to be common and bred in our fens in former years. The common goose begins to lay toward Candlemas, and lays from nine to eleven eggs. If well fed, she will lay thirty-five to forty eggs, and sometimes fifty, if the eggs are removed and she is not allowed to set. The turkey-hen lays from twelve to twenty eggs, rather smaller than those of the goose, which are white, mixed with reddish or yellow freckles. They are very