Seasonal Almanac

Frost descent: Insects tuck themselves away (1 of 5)

May 1st, 2009

Frost descent 11 of 15We have been collecting the black chicken’s eggs everyday and now have 7 in a used carton. This morning I decided that it was time for a taste test. A fresh egg has a round and compact yolk and egg white (albumen) that sits up around the yolk. When poached, the egg presents a firm shape not dissimilar to a peeled soft-boiled egg (pictured).

Freshness on the whole does not affect the egg’s nutritional value, but it does have a bearing on its flavour. The chicken’s diet also greatly influences the flavour of her eggs (a varied diet is said to produce more flavoursome eggs). I poached two eggs – one of our own and one bought egg. In this completely unscientific and possibly biased test, the black chicken’s egg tasted way better.

Eggs are highly nutritious. It is a capsule of protein packed with vitamin A, B6, B12, D, E and important trace elements (the yolk is one of the very few natural food sources that contain vitamin D). The egg yolk has a concentrated amount of fat while the white contains no fat and is made up of water and protein. The high fat content together with high cholestrol divides general opinion on whether eggs are good or bad for human health. The issue of the form of cholesterol contained in eggs continues to fuel many controverisal and contradictory studies. The nutritional values of free-range versus caged eggs are also continuely being debated.

In many cuisines, eggs are indepensible as a single ingredient that foams (traps air), coagulates (sets), and binds/ emulsifies. They form the base unit of many people’s diets. Perhaps because of this fundamental quality (like time), there will always be debates over the simple egg.

2 Responses to “Frost descent: Insects tuck themselves away (1 of 5)”

  1. 1 lizzie
    May 11th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Excellent post.

    I am a great egg fan, and am filled with joy or saddness every time the latest “how many eggs can you eat per week” opinions come out of the scientific community.

    I’m a cautious believer in the idea that you know what foods are good for you by how they make you feel (a belief tempered by the fact that my desire to eat chocolate clearly outstrips any possible good it can do me). When i’m feeling fragile (emotionally or physicall), drunk or hungover, I always feel like a soft boiled egg.

    Your idea of the age-old debate over the simple egg is backed up by Jonathan Swift’s satirical description of the Lilliputian civil war of the “big-enders” v. the “little enders”, based on which end you start you boiled egg (a reference to British feuds between catholics and protestants).

    Lucas and I have 2 ongoing egg debates:

    1. Do you put an egg in boiling water and leave for 4mins (for softboil) or do you put it in cold water and turn the heat off when the water boils?

    2. Do you gently break and peel off the tip of the shell to get access, or do you take a big swipe with a knife and cut the end clean off?

  2. 2 jolaw
    May 11th, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Eggs are indeed very comforting. My comfort food also contains eggs (also involving spinach, creamed corn and rice). There are indeed many strange beliefs in the consumption of eggs. For example, my grandmother believed that my dad ate too many eggs when he was young and that was why he went bald.

    I can contribute the following to your debate:

    1. For a softboil egg, you put the egg into boiling water for 4 – 5 mins. Pricking the rounded end with a push-pin (as I know you do and know, Lizzie) allows the expanding air from the air pocket to get out instead of building up and cracking the egg from the inside. (This is as instructed by Stephanie Alexander.)

    2. One’s preference for getting into the soft-boiled may depend on how fresh the egg is since the fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel. So if you soft-boil a fresh egg, you may want to swipe the end off with a knife.