My grandfather was an egg candler. What, any contemporary person is sure to ask, is an egg candler?
One who candles or tests the freshness of eggs by holding them between the eye and a lighted candle.
Many of these “highly experienced” people will never work again, not because they are lazy or incompetent, but rather because their job has disappeared. (Wordnik)
One perk of my grandfather’s employment was that his family always had the biggest, freshest eggs, some with double yolks. My grandmother used them in her famous matzo balls, or in potato latkes. I loved going to my grandparents’ fourth-floor apartment on Lydig Avenue in the Bronx, primarily to eat matzo balls, latkes, and chopped liver—all replete with fresh eggs. Sometimes hard pale yellow yolks floated in her chicken soup—some rare permutation of unborn chicks, a delicacy I haven’t tasted since the passing of the above mentioned cook—who, by the way, lived to her mid-eighties, as did her husband, despite scarfing down eggs every day.
Perhaps it’s because of my family history that I’m such a big fan of the humble egg. When dietary “experts” told us to forego these precious jewels rife with bad cholesterol they did us a great disservice. I don’t know from cholesterol; unlike an egg, it’s not something I can hold, see or feel. All I know is that eggs are still relatively cheap, can be cooked in endless manner, and are a source of protein and joy.
Once, in Maine, I went on a tour of a big egg farm. This was in the early 1970s, and those keening, mewling chickens were cramped into tiny cages under fluorescent lights; any that escaped were called “renegades” and promptly shot. The experience put me off eggs for a few months, until I began buying my eggs from a woman who kept a few chickens. After doing so for many years, I found I could actually taste the antibiotics in store-bought eggs; now I only buy organic. (Caveat: not just “cage-free” but organic.)
I eat eggs scrambled, fried, poached, and turned into elaborate crispy frittatas loaded with vegetables. My favorite additions to scrambled eggs are mushrooms, scallions and cheddar cheese. I add soy sauce and garlic to an egg while it’s frying, cooking the white crisp while keeping the yolk runny for dipping toast or potatoes. I adapted a dish presented on Top Chef that I frequently eat for lunch: a frozen waffle, topped with a bit of real maple syrup, a poached egg and a slice of melted cheese. Fantastic!
I dream of a better tomorrow…where chickens can cross roads
and not have their motives questioned.–Anon