Alibi V.23 No.21 • May 22-28, 2014 

Food 101

Great Eggspectations

A tiny compendium of egg lore

An egg-beladen Holy Cow burger.
An egg-beladen Holy Cow burger.
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com

To tell the whole history of human egg consumption, we would need to go back to some very uncomfortable scenes at the dawn of human time—scenes in which dirty, possibly naked, possibly bucktoothed cave people are rummaging through nests in bushes and treetops.

It’s awkward to think about, so let’s skip ahead to ancient India 3200 B.C.E. Here we spy a man in the Indus Valley playing his flute for a newly captured jungle fowl in hopes that it will lay an egg.

These dulcet flute strains are the beginning of the end for the jungle hen as its intelligence will soon be stamped out, its spirit crushed. Five thousand years later, chickens will be docile to the point of idiocy.

But let’s not dwell on that because here we are in ancient Rome! Romans adore eggs and are now scrambling them in oil with mashed bird brains, rose petals and spices, or serving them soft boiled and drizzled with honey, vinegar and fish sauce. Eggs were such a popular appetizer (and yes, deviled eggs are amongst the unsung glories of Rome) that there was an expression that went “Ab ovo usque ad mala” meaning “From the egg to the fruit” or “The meal from beginning to end.”

Oh look! Now it’s 2014. (Truth be told, we’ve skipped a lot here, including the invention of custards, mayonnaise and meringues, not to mention the baleful rise of the modern egg-industrial complex.) But for better or worse, here we are in present-day Albuquerque wondering:

Where does one find a good egg in this town? Why should we even want to find a good egg? What are the hottest egg trends of the season? What are some freaky things happening with eggs right here in our city?

I’m going to start with the second question because I know what you’re thinking: “Why should I eat eggs? What’s in it for me?”

Well, it turns out that eggs are the perfect little nutrient rocket pack, flush with vitamin A, vitamin B5, B12, B2, phosphorus, folate, selenium and choline. They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin which boost eye health. (Next time you eat eggs, imagine your eyes being doused in a nutrient-rich bath.)

Some people still harbor the misconception that eating eggs ratchets up your cholesterol. Studies have shown that, for most people, egg consumption only raises the good kind of cholesterol, high density lipoproteins that reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Finally, the high quality of the proteins in eggs can make you ripped (not from eating eggs alone; you have to, you know, exercise)—news which calls to mind that famous scene where Rocky Balboa drinks a glassful of raw eggs for breakfast. Little did Rocky know that he would have gotten more digestible protein if he had cooked the eggs.

Where does one find a good egg in this town? Why should we even want to find a good egg? What are the hottest egg trends of the season? What are some freaky things happening with eggs right here in our city?

So eggs, in short, are a superfood. It’s no wonder since they’re laden with all of the necessary nutrients to knit together a baby bird.

Aside from the health benefits, eggs are one of the most protean, expressive foods there are—they gloss, emulsify, fluff, bind and thicken. Here’s where to find the best eggs in town:

Best eggs by the carton: There are various egg producers in Burque environs, but I’m partial to Peculiar Farms, a little outfit in Los Lunas that keeps Araucana chickens. Araucanas, a Chilean breed, pop out lovely pale blue and green eggs with yolks the color of ripe apricots. The best part is that, according to Peculiar Farms’ website, the chickens roam free, feasting on fields of grasses, clovers and herbs. Their eggs are available for purchase at La Montañita Co-op for $4.59 a dozen.

Most fashionable eggs: Fried eggs as breakfast food is so middle-America passé. If you’ve been following restaurant trends in the last few years, you’ll know that the fried egg is now an all-purpose crown for burgers, pizza, sandwiches, vegetables and just about any dish that needs some extra creamy, salty, satiating oomph. The French have been slapping fried eggs on their sandwiches forever (an egg is what turns a croque-monsieur into a croque-madame).

While eggs aren’t necessarily being wildly lavished on dishes in Albuquerque restaurants, we have seen the rise of the fried egg burger. B2B Bistronomy offers the Sunrise Burger with pepper jack cheese, bacon and a fried egg ($11). Other luxe burger joints like Holy Cow and Q Burger don’t necessarily have a bespoke egg burger on the menu but list fried egg as an optional topping. On the shoestring budget scale, Lucky Boy will stack up your egg foo young burger (burger topped with a Chinese omelette) for $3.20.

Most whimsical eggs: I’m using whimsical as a modifier here, to downplay the unusual-bordering-on-terrifying nature of some of these dishes (terrifying merely because we fear what we do not know). Some of these are for the lustiest gourmands only. Dishes are listed from most familiar in western cuisine to least.

Scotch eggs: Scotch eggs are hardboiled eggs encased in sausage, breaded and fried. Think decadent Victorian boutique meats (they were supposedly invented in 1738 by the hoity toity Fortnum & Mason grocery in London). Wildly popular in the UK, Two Fools Tavern serves them hot around a mound of stone-ground mustard for $7 ($5.50 on Mondays).

Soondubu jike soup at Korean BBQ House ($11): Soft-boiled eggs make up the bulk of this Sriracha-colored soup that’s filled out with tofu, beef or seafood. It’s a warming and flavorful little pot, but be forewarned the chunks of eggs slip between your teeth like ghost jelly. If you have any squeamishness around egg texture at all, I would try the Bibimbob instead, which is a big pile of rice, seasoned meat and fresh vegetables under a fried egg ($12). It’s brought to the table hot, fragrant and sizzling like a summer rainstorm.

Balut eggs: Available at Talin Market. Baluts, a popular street food in the Philippines, are eggs that have been fertilized. Talin has chicken ($.75 each) and duck ($1.29 each). If you’re wondering if fertilized eggs mean what you think it means, the answer is yes, there is a tiny chick inside. I went to Talin. I bought the eggs. I got home and lost my nerve. You’ll have to take it from thewire.com that they’re “just like a hard-boiled egg with amped up flavors,” and the chick is “basically like a tender chicken in a briny, foie gras-ish soup.”

However you like your eggs, why not take a moment to reflect upon this miraculous little food. Think of its quiet, three-in-one perfection, so often used to illustrate the Holy Trinity. Think of the chicken that bore it and the chick that never was. As M.F.K. Fisher once wrote, "Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken.” If that doesn’t bring a tear to your eye in this post-private age, I don’t know what will.