Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/115

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
103
EGGS IN CHEMISTRY AND COMMERCE.

gathering about the mouth of the river Amazon alone is some five thousand jars of oil, and it takes five thousand eggs to make a jar. The turtle comes at night, and deposits from one hundred and forty to two hundred white eggs in the sand, carefully covering them up before returning to the sea. In about fourteen days she returns again to the same place to lay, and will come up about four times before stopping laying, thus giving some six hundred to eight hundred eggs. A native of Brazil will consume as many as twenty or thirty turtles' eggs at a meal, and a European will eat a dozen at a breakfast. They make an excellent omelet. The Indians frequently eat them raw, mixed with their cassava flour. The condition in which the egg of the turtle is best fit to be eaten is when taken from the slain animal, before the formation of the glaze and the surrounding parchment-like skin, which answers the purpose of a shell.

The eggs of a large lizard (Varanus vivitattus) are eaten in Java. In the West Indies the eggs of the iguana are thought a delicacy. One of these lizards will sometimes contain as many as fourscore eggs, which, when boiled, are like marrow. They are about the size of a pigeon's egg, but with a soft shell. The eggs of the common teguexin (Teius teguexin), and of other large species of lizards, are eaten in South America.

In the Antilles and on the west coast of Africa the eggs of the alligator are eaten. They resemble in shape a hen's egg, and have much the same taste, but are larger. More than a hundred eggs have been found in one alligator.

The large eggs of the boa constrictor are regarded as a dainty by the Africans from the Congo. One of these snakes, killed on an estate in British Guiana in 1884, had fifty eggs, which were eaten by the negroes.

The eggs of various fishes differ remarkably in external appearance. Some would scarcely be believed to be eggs at all. Take, for instance, the skate's egg. It looks like a flattened leather purse, with four horns or handles at the corners. The yolk is in the shape of a walnut, larger or smaller according to the species. In the Elasmobranchii, sharks and rays, the ova are not so numerous as those of other fishes, the eggs being generally inclosed in coriaceous or leathery capsules, familiarly known to sea-side visitors as mermaids' purses and the like.

The egg of the picked dog-fish, the yolk of which is about the size of a pigeon's egg, is used by the inhabitants in parts of Sweden and Norway as a substitute for other eggs in their domestic economy. Cod-roe is sold in London in a dried form, smoked, and thus darkly colored. It is a delicious dish when partly salted, parboiled, and then fried. Cod-roes are exported in tins to Australia and India in the salted state. The late Frank Buckland examined