A stingy fisherman always makes his three young helpers do all his work. One day he scolds the "lazy boys" for forgetting to provide lunch. "Don't worry," they say. "We can make stone soup." The boys dig a hole and fill it with water and "flavored" stones. They trick the fisherman into making bowls and chopsticks, and fetching salt and sesame oil. While he's busy, they stir in bird eggs, add wild vegetables, and slip fish into the soup. By the time the old man returns, they have a feast fit for a king.
To this day, "Egg Drop Stone Soup" is a traditional dish in southeast China. A recipe is included.
©2007 Ying Chang Compestine; (P)2008 Penguin