“These eggs are beautiful”, said the wife. I’d just unpacked a round dozen free-range eggs that I’d espied in the market while looking for some herbs to plant out . They’d been safely packed into two blotting- paperish, soft cardboard boxes which we all , naturally enough,have always called “egg-boxes”. Those flimsy, yet sturdy-enough containers weren’t good enough for decorative purposes in the kitchen, of course,so she was busily arranging them into a bright porcelain -white, lop-sided bowl. It’s always better to keep eggs out of the fridge because the yolk invariably cracks at first heating on that good old frying pan, but if an object had a decorative property of any sort , the wife was sure to utilise that quality in some way.These spherical objects might be the most sublime of foodstuffs , but they were never going to be simply ….”eggs”. This was art and design!
They were lovely in their various creamy shades and I wondered momentarily would it be a desecration to actually crack one of those and fry it up on the pan and grind some pepper and salt over it.It would be a bit like ruining a fine sculpture, but I’d doubtless make that sacreligious sacrifice very soon. In the meantime the wife was ready to utilise them as “Pure Decor”. We both laughed at this little, undoubtedly female idiosyncrasy.
A closer look at these particular hen’s eggs revealed that they were unlike any you’d ever buy in a supermarket .Something like all those oddball errant vegetables that do not manage to gain “eye-appeal” or a specific size, shape or pre-determined “proper” colour and subsequently never darker the vegetable racks; these eggs were, to that extent ,imperfect too.Some of the shells had a less than smooth appearance and some had even a dimpled and deckled look to them .One specifically had shallow furrows across its surface.
As you might imagine , I have a curiousity about such things and it was intensely piqued by this new discovery.
On further detective wor…er , snooping, there appeared to be a few interlocking theories about the whys and whereforses of the prevalence of strange and weird eggshells.
Apparently it can happen occasionally in older hens , but younger under-developed ones might have the same problem too, so that was a bit of a deadend for the Sherlock in me. Then there’s the idea that rough eggshells could be caused by a lack of something such as readily available water , if for example there was a morning frost and the drinking water froze over at the very moment when Mrs Hen needed a nice morning cuppa. This could cause the egg to slow down before being laid, picking up more calcium than was really needed or necessary.Then there’s the theory that if the hen was disturbed or shocked, say by a loud noise such as thunder or some barking-mad dog, then she might simply pop out an egg at such a rate of knots that it could well be malformed in some way; not perfectly egg-shaped at all.I suppose, too ,hens might have the odd off -day just like the rest of us and screw things up, like you might drop a plate or spill your teacup . Of course that old hen might simply be ill and is calcium- deficient in some way…like someone with osteporosis.Apparently they need an inp ut of phosphrous in their diet too ,which they usually get from eating hard-shelled beetles and the like .There mightn’t be enough of those guys rattling about the hen-run to provide any of that.
Anyway, I found it all very fascinating and was pleased to discover that the misshapen oddness of the eggshell wrapper bore no correlation to the delicious quality of the eggy contents inside.A truly wonderful piece of work is a free-range egg.When I knocked two of those babies into a simmering pan of olive oil , the lovely madly orangey yolk fair shone out like a spoon ,as Mr Dylan might say on his birthday(That’s his 75th today ,by the way).
Served up on a heel of toast with a grind of black pepper , a nip of salt and a shake of tabasco with some overripe avocado drenched in lime juice on the side , they made one truly fine breakfast.