The New York Times has the ultimate food porn piece (registration required) this week: a story waxing poetic about the joys of embryonic eggs—the eggs that the butcher finds in the laying hen he is dispatching.
The article has all the elements of porn: The picture of the unlaid eggs make them look mouthwatering, though slightly disturbing. (Is that … a capillary?) Unlaid eggs have both elements of taboo and sexuality to them. Eggs evoke fertility, and yet hens that “produce” unlaid eggs are considered too old. The story makes the eggs sound really, really good, although I did feel slightly squeamish while reading it.
Maybe it’s just messing with my head, because the practice of harvesting embryonic eggs turns the egg, which has traditionally been throught of as a vegetarian food, into something that can’t quite be defined as vegetarian anymore.
They’re coming to a menu near you. Dan Barber, chef/owner of Manhattan’s Blue Hill, has been experimenting with unborn eggs at his restaurant. Orders for dishes containing the unusual protein picked up after he changed the menu description from “embryonic” to “immature.”
One of his biggest hits is a two-yolk treat. He injects the immature yolk into an ordinary egg after the egg has been barely poached using a method similar to sous vide, at very low heat for an hour and 20 minutes. The albumen coagulates but the yolk stays runny.