They are everywhere and in almost everything, so when it comes to cooking with eggs, at-home chefs had better know the hard-boiled facts. Jessie Cross offers four little-known tidbits about the ubiquitous egg.
Eggs are one of the most elemental foods out there—and the most versatile. They’ve always played a role in human history—some say from the very start (a handful of creation myths recall an egg-like beginning). In ancient times, the Romans preserved them and dyed them to celebrate spring festivals—then crushed the shells to keep evil spirits from taking up residence. Folks in the Middle Ages were forbidden to eat them during Lent because they were too decadent.
To avoid ring-around-your-yolk, give hardboiled eggs a chilly bath in a bowl of ice water when they’re still steaming hot.
In Russia, carved wooden eggs were symbols of joy and happiness—except for Czar Alexander III, who preferred his eggs in jewel-encrusted form from jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé. The Brits have been rolling decorated eggs down grassy knolls for hundreds of years—a tradition Dolley Madison introduced on the White House lawn in the early 19th century. And these days, modern gals don’t mind a little egg on their faces—all in the name of beauty. The whites are a popular ingredient in face masks, while the yolks turn up in shampoos and conditioners. So are eggs versatile? Absolutely. And that’s before we even step into the kitchen.
We fry them and poach them. We coddle them, pickle them, and ferment them. (Ask me about the first time I deep-fried an egg. It was nothing short of ridiculous—and utterly delicious.) We patiently transform them into airy meringues and velvety custards. We use them to thicken sauces and bind crisp batters to succulent, deep-fried treats. The Chinese bury them for weeks in a mixture of clay and ash to make their thousand-year-old eggs. And at Easter, Americans dunk them in dye and buy pounds of their chocolate likenesses wrapped in gaily colored foil.
Here are four little-known tidbits about the delicious, ubiquitous egg.