Even before I wrote a paper on eggs, I have always adored eggs. Eggs are truly the ultimate fast food complete with its own packaging. A single boiled egg is “cheap as chips” and has been a savior for me many times when I was running a little late to work and didn’t have time for breakfast – a dash of salt & pepper and a cup of coffee gave me instant low-GI protein and prevented me from passing out until lunch.
My lovely neighbor Sue worked with someone who owned several hundred chickens (we call them chooks in Australia) and sold them for a mere $3.00/dozen for free range eggs which is an absolute bargain considering some of the free-range eggs are up to $6.50/dozen. They were delivered to me fort-nightly and I really enjoyed knowing who my supplier was. Sadly those egg supplies have stopped as the woman sold her entire flock to someone else. :(
Eggs for me are definitely an item that I do not skimp on. I will pay the extra money to buy the best eggs available in the market. Recently I watched a food program that featured a chicken farmer explaining the difference between caged eggs versus free range and he said that if you were blind-folded, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and that the reason why you pay more for free range is for animal welfare. I am not sure that I believe that fully because eggs taste different depending on the feed that they are given and surely their high stress level can’t be good for the eggs they produce. Regardless, I feel happier knowing that the chooks that laid my eggs were not stressed out in a battery hen factory.
Here in SA, we have a few suppliers of free-range eggs and Fryar’s Kangaroo Island Free Range Eggs on Kangaroo Island and Rosie’s Free Range Eggs from Eudunda in the Barossa Valley (the most famous wine growing region in Australia) are a couple of producers that I purchase and we are lucky to have such a wealth of produce here. I love opening a carton of eggs and occasionally finding a small feather or even chicken poo on the egg – I don’t know, it makes it much more authentic to me. In the states, unless close to farms, so many commercially produced food products are so sterile that chicken poo or feathers would probably be totally frowned upon!
It is interesting that nearly all eggs produced here are brown in color and nearly all eggs in the USA are white. Brown eggs are more pricey in the states and often sold as fertile but the main difference in color just has to do with the variety of chickens that lays the eggs. I guess that’s another “cultural” difference that I have noticed.
My first experience of the natural “Easter” colored eggs was at Chez Panisse where I saw a large bowl full of these pastel blue, green and pink eggs. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them because I couldn’t believe that they were natural and they were so exotic to me. Since then, I have tried to learn as much as I can about chicken breeds and egg varieties (but by no means am I an expert). One of the chicken breeds that lays blue eggs is called the Araucana and can trace its bloodline from two rare South American breeds – Collonca and Quetero.
If you ever have a chance to go to England, head to either Sainsbury, ASDA or Waitrose grocery stores and look for Clarence Court Free Range Eggs that specialize in rare breeds. Their “Old Cotswold Legbar” lays eggs in a variety of beautiful pastel colors including, turquoise, blue, olive, pink, peach and eau-de-nil. They are producing doing duck, goose, pheasant, quail and Ostrich eggs as well! Just beware, if you purchase an ostrich egg, it is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs!
Eggs may seem like plain old breakfast food for some but it is pretty divine to have a truffle-scented omelet with a salad and a glass of champagne or a rich crème caramel!
Ostrich & Emu eggs for sale in Barcelona