Five Fat Hens by Tim Halket. Grub Street Publishing

In addition to featuring a wide selection of recipes celebrating both the chicken and the egg, Tim Halket's Five Fat Hens chronicles the misadventures of raising chickens from scratch. As such, it begs the following question. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This weighty philosophical conundrum wasn't really resolved during the latest installment of the Wednesday night book club. (Okay - to be honest - it wasn't even addressed.) But just about every other issue pertaining to hens, eggs and their free-range journey from barnyard to plate was given due consideration. The tone of the discussion? Definitely sunny side up.

What accounted for the especially festive mood? Well, for one thing, Barbara-jo was back from her working holiday in Paris and eager to add to the conversational stew with stories from the land of Coq au Vin. What did we learn? Just about anyone whose ever lifted an appreciative fork has at least one good chicken story.

Yes, there were personal anecdotes involving temperamental chickens. There was even a first class imitation of a genuine chicken strut. But, as always, the discussion eventually got around to the joy of food. Halket's style is distinctly British and Mark was especially helpful when it came to offering various culinary translations. Want to know the difference between French Toast and what the British call "Eggy Bread"? Just ask Mark the next time you're in the shop.

Glenys did her usual excellent job of interpretive cuisine. We started with an appetizer of Egg Salad Crostinis and worked our way up to a steaming bowl of Spaghetti Carbonara. The main course? Seared Chicken with Winter Greens. Dessert? A Lemon Curd Tart that mimicked the dazzling yellow yoke of a perfect egg. All this and we didn't even have to feed the chickens.