Photo credit: Jeremy Stanley
Photo credit: Jeremy Stanley
Old Still for Making Moonshine (Photo credit: Ann Blair)

Living as I do in the heart of moonshine [white lightning] country, I just about dropped the cookbook when I saw the word “Moonshine.” If it had been a Southern cookbook or a Foxfire book, I would have turned the page without a second thought and been done with it.

Photo credit: C. Bertelsen

But this reference to “Moonshine” came from English food writer Elizabeth David’s book, Summer Cooking (pages 65-66). And when my eye darted from the title of the recipe to the recipe credit and attribution below, the real shock hit me: the recipe first appeared in The Accomplisht Cook, by Robert May. In 1660.

Greek Yarrow (Photo credit: Henry Heatly)

Astounding, the word, meaning very different things. After all, “moonshine” DOES mean the light of the moon. And Greek yarrow, if botany is your thing.


Break them in a dish, upon some butter and oyl, melted or cold ; throw on them a little salt, and set them on a chafing-dish of coals ; make not the yolks too hard, and in the doing cover them, and make a sauce for them of an onion cut into round slices, and fried in sweet oyl or butter ; then put to them Verjuice, grated nutmeg, a little salt, and so serve them.

Omitting the Verjuice (the juice of white grapes), Moonshine is an admirable way of cooking eggs au plat. In those days, the dish would have been a pewter plate.

The Accomplisht Cook, Robert May. 1660.

Truth be told, a much more palatable way to enjoy “Moonshine.” (And you’ll feel a lot better in the morning, too!)

But why call this egg dish “Moonshine?” The roundness of the eggs, the onion slices, the color?

© 2009 C. Bertelsen

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