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In Praise of The Egg


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,634-passover_matzo_ball_soup_400 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

conish chicken



7 responses »

  1. I agree with you about the cholesterol, I can’t accept that eggs are bad for you they’ve been a natural food for humans about as long as they’ve existed. Have never thought about the antibiotics in eggs, will have to look out for organics until I can get some of my own chooks again.

  2. They’ve gone back on the “eat no eggs” dictum. Your post makes me want to go have a yummy fried egg!

  3. My favorite kind of eggs are matzo brie.

  4. For those who don’t know what matzo brie is: it’s matzo, softened in warm water or not (depends if you like your MB soft or hard), then soaked in scrambled eggs and fried. Onions may be added. May be topped with maple syrup, jelly, or nothing. Ratio is two eggs to every piece of matzo. Delicious and filling.

  5. Always happy to see a post from you. I too have an eggy background: living in Kansas/Nebraska I always had chickens around. My grandmothers, my mother, everyone raised chickens. I even raised a bout two dozen chicks when I was 9 or 10 years old. Sold them as frying pullets. I learned to slaughter, dress and defeather, and carve up chickens as a child. I still buy whole chickens and carve them myself. Yes, cagefree. Organic is not so important to me because it’s a designation that costs money to get and often small farms can’t afford it. If they are cagefree, that’s a big start. And of course living close to farms in Nebraska I know precisely where the chickens came from. And, yes, our chicken noodle or chicken dumpling soup usually had egg yolks in it, ranging from full-size down to little clusters of tiny yellow yummy. Because chickens for soup or stew are always older females (stewing hens) and often still have developing eggs in them.

    So what does it mean to egg someone on?

  6. Interesting question, Juanita.

    Thanks for that info about the yolks and where they come from; I wasn’t quite sure.

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