It’s an often used phrase, ‘Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs’ but what does it actually mean? In this age of squalid, damp, poorly regulated nursing homes your grandmother is more likely to be buggered senseless by her big, burly carer than spend much time passing on this ancient custom. With the wonderful tool that is the internet, anyone can teach anything to anyone, so I set out to revive the long forgotten art of sucking eggs.
Taken from worldwidewords.org:
“It does look odd, but its meaning is clear enough: don’t give needless assistance or presume to offer advice to an expert. As that prolific author, Anon, once wrote:
Teach not thy parent’s mother to extract
The embryo juices of the bird by suction.
The good old lady can that feat enact,
Quite irrespective of your kind instruction.
Many similar expressions have been invented down the years, such as Don’t teach your grandmother how to milk ducks, and don’t teach your grandmother to steal sheep. These have the same kind of absurd image as the version you quote, which has survived them all. It was first recorded in 1707 in a translation by John Stevens of the collected comedies of the Spanish playwright Quevedo: “You would have me teach my Grandame to suck Eggs”. Another early example, whimsically inverted, is in Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, published in 1749: “I remember my old schoolmaster, who was a prodigious great scholar, used often to say, Polly matete cry town is my daskalon. The English of which, he told us, was, That a child may sometimes teach his grandmother to suck eggs”.”
That’s all well and good, but let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it, how do you actually do it?!
You obviously need to have some eggs. Not wanting to stick some foreign birds non-fertilised embryo in my mouth, especially with all this bird flu going about, I decided to go British, and what better than ‘Go Large’ British fresh eggs?
As you will probably be aware eggs come from a chicken’s fanny. They will be a little slimy, and will possibly collect some chicken arse feathers, and maybe a little poo. Select a reasonably clean egg, and if you’re really worried about it give it a wash (however, I chose not to).
Place the egg firmly and confidently in the mouth. There’s no room for mistake here, a little too high and it’s an egg up the nose for you. A little too low, and you’ll have yolk running down your chin. If you’re drunk, you may want to consider someone else placing the egg in your mouth for you.
There’s really nothing else for it but to suck. Not too hard or you’ll choke and if alone will die. There’s nothing worse than being found dead on the floor with an egg stuck in your throat, especially if you’re wearing your mother’s stockings and suspenders.
When removing the egg, try not to bite it. I know this is tempting, but it really isn’t very pleasant.
No, really. It is in fact very, very unpleasant. Much akin to swallowing elephant spunk I should imagine.
So there we have it, the lost art of sucking eggs here on the world wide superinterweb for all to see forever and ever, or at least until Edwina Currie gets hold of me. Show your grandmothers, children, friends and enemies and let’s eventually make this an olympic sport.