The secrets of peeling hard-boiled eggs are revealed

When I’m not reading books about Trump for my own upcoming third book on him, I seem to be reading about food. My latest find is the extraordinary: “The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America” by Sara B. Franklin. Besides rescuing Anne Frank’s book from the slag heap, editing with Anne Tyler, John Updike and a zillion others, she was instrumental in bringing M.F.K. Fisher and Julia Child to the nation’s attention.

I have a small personal story about each of these two culinary masters. As a student in Aix-en-Provence, I earned pocket money by typing up manuscripts for a very nice woman with lousy penmanship. I went bike riding with her daughters, and she took us all to the opera.

Courtesy of the Smithsonian. 
Julia Child’s home kitchen, with its hundreds of tools, appliances and furnishings, serves as the opening story of Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s exhibition on food history.
Courtesy of the Smithsonian. Julia Child’s home kitchen, with its hundreds of tools, appliances and furnishings, serves as the opening story of Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s exhibition on food history.

From my typing I noted that she seemed to care a whole lot about food. Years later when I subscribed to The New Yorker, I felt abashed to read essays by M.F.K. Fisher. Now, I say, open her “Serve It Forth” to any page and you will find an amusing anecdote and a trenchant observation about eaters and their habits.

Her short chapter “Let the Sky Rain Potatoes” has it all — the good, the bad, the ugly and the wondrous. Reading it all these years after it was written, I connect with the May 29 New York Times headline: “Hold the French Fries! Paris Olympics Chart a New Gastronomic Course.”

The subtitle offers explanation: “The environment will come first as France tries to revitalize the global image of its cuisine.” In the 45,000 meals served to Olympic athletes each day, there will be no French fries and no foie gras, but there will be plenty of vegetarian hot dogs and quinoa muesli.

As an aside, here’s free access to an article about what makes a potato an Idaho potato, along with apple names, onion names and so on.

“The Editor” also shows how Jones helped Julia Child shape our culture. My very small connection with Julia speaks to what a very caring and helpful person she was. With grants from the National Science Foundation and the Exxon Education Foundation, I looked at the national efforts to “reinvent” how mathematics was taught in the lower elementary grades.

This meant visiting public school classrooms in 22 states. As the paper I wrote for the National Science Foundation turned into a book, I decided to include adult attitudes about mathematics. I contacted every CEO I could think of as well as famous people such as Julia Child, asking two questions: “How did you feel about math in school?” and “How do you use math in your current life?”

Most CEOs couldn’t be bothered to answer. I was especially annoyed that IBM chief Lou Gerstner, who put his name to national standards for schools and a for-profit computer program that claimed to teach children to read, didn’t have the time to answer two questions about math. Julia Child sent a handwritten reply, telling me how much she hated math in school and saying that of course specific math skills are useful in changing quantities in recipes.

Child Magazine selected my resulting book, “Garbage Pizza, Patchwork Quilts and Math Magic,” as one of the “10 best of the year” for parents while CEOs continued to rant about the need for standards in schools. I also wrote a couple of books featuring their rants.

You can visit Child’s kitchen. She donated it to the Smithsonian in 2001.

Open “Bravetart: Iconic American Desserts,” a James Beard Foundation Award Winner by Stella Parks, and you will find yellow cake. Parks points out that egg whites were the workhorse of 19th century desserts, leaving a surplus of yolks. In 1857, the Edgefield Advertiser published a recipe that began, “Take the yolks of one dozen eggs.”

I have no idea how many yolks will be in the Monday Munch yellow cake: Just know you are eating an iconic dessert.

Those deviled eggs on the menu bring back memories of the terror suffered by my cooking team in the senior center kitchen years ago. With deviled eggs on our menu, a generous farmer donated a zillion eggs “fresh from the hens.”

Those eggs were impossible to peel. An experienced chef who ran a kitchen in Shelburne and dropped by to help our team said he’d never encountered any eggs that difficult. Later, we heard that really, really fresh eggs are harder to peel than older ones.

Since then, I’ve found lots of advice for peeling eggs:

  • Before boiling, use a thumbtack to make a tiny hole at the top of the egg
  • Don’t boil too long
  • Don’t boil, put eggs in a colander and steam them
  • Put boiled eggs in ice water
  • Roll boiled egg back and forth on hard surface, cracking shell
  • Buy an egg peeler at Amazon
  • Say a few Hail Marys
  • Send $10 to Trump
  • Use old eggs.

Monday Munch, June 17, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
White chicken chili, cornbread, greens with tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots and homemade dessert.

Monday Munch, June 24
Chicken Caesar salad, deviled eggs, bread, beverage and yellow cake.