When Jody said, “Hey let’s do Shirred Eggs with Spinach, Mushrooms and Toast Soldiers,”* I responded with an enthusiastic, “Huh?” Something stirred in the part of my brain where meal descriptions from Dickens and Wilkie Collins rattle around with episodes of Jewel in the Crown and Downton Abbey, reasonably accurate associations because Googling shirred eggs brings up the original 1896 edition of Fanny Farmer. She explains that “shirred eggs” derives from the dish used in the preparation, an egg-shirrer, a shallow gratin dish for baking the eggs. Did you catch that? …for baking the eggs.
That’s it, the whole circus? I mean, shirred means baked?
[WARNING: Language geek paragraph coming up.]
The Victorians were obsessively specific about nomenclature. If you don’t believe me, scroll through your vocabulary and gather all the unusual and strange words. Cross out the foreign imports like weltschmerz and cri de coeur, Shakespearean bonbons like bodkin
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