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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Alrightythen...

Well that was instructive! Yesterday’s little foray into the wonderful world of religious history probably cost me about a quarter of my readers (and if you believe the pundits; eternal damnation). My poor gmail inbox looked at me last night and asked if all Catholics had such potty mouths… I didn’t know what to say!

Anyhoo… now that we’ve firmly established that I am personally guilty of Deicide, and that I’m going directly to hell, let’s talk about something a little less provocative, shall we?

How about eggs?

Now don’t worry, I’m not segueing into a discussion of Darwin. I think treppenwitz has been host to enough theological controversy for one week, don’t you?

Actually, I’m talking about the good old, popped out of a chicken’s butt, incredible edible® egg.

I thought I knew just about everything I needed to know about eggs. You can fry them (sunny side up, over easy, etc.), poach them, hard or soft boil them, scramble them (with salami!!!), stuff them (cheese omelets, Spanish omelets, etc.), and my all-time favorite… coddle them! All of these preparations (and more I’m sure I’ve never heard of) are based on the premise that one can walk into any supermarket and find ‘fresh’ eggs in the refrigerated section.

Guess what I found out when I moved to Israel? Truly fresh eggs aren’t found in the refrigerator section! They are stacked at room temperature!

At first I was horrified. Visions of salmonella and other bacterial beasties danced in my head. What kind of a backward, third world country had I moved to??? Needless to say, once I got over the initial shock of seeing flats of eggs sitting out without any refrigeration, I started asking questions.

After much research (and a lot of funny looks from the staff at the local supermarket), I found out that eggs have one of the best natural protections available against contamination: a shell. They really only need to be refrigerated if they are not going to be consumed within a week of being laid. The only exception to this is if they get wet (which apparently makes the shells permeable to bacteria).

So why are eggs always in refrigerator cases in the U.S.? Two (related) reasons:

1. The time between chicken and consumer in the U.S. is often two, or even three weeks!!! Therefore the egg producers plan for a worst (i.e. longest) case scenario.

2. Once you refrigerate eggs, you can’t stop refrigerating them, because condensation will form on the shell and - you guessed it - bacteria will get inside.

Here in Israel, the typical time between chicken and consumer is somewhere between 8 hours and a couple of days (the latter in the case of big cities). Therefore, in small grocery stores and makolets, you’ll find the egg cartons stacked neatly in an un-refrigerated display. And, in large supermarkets, instead of a refrigerator for the eggs, you will see them stacked in an open dehumidifier (to make sure the shells stay dry).

So, besides the ‘gee wiz’ aspect of this whole science lesson, I’ve also come to appreciate the look, and more importantly, the taste of truly fresh eggs.

When you crack a really fresh egg, the bright orange-yellow yolk stands up tall and round (instead of settling into a flat yellow pancake. And the taste is something indescribably better than the tired, two-week-old variety.

The only downside that anyone has been able to come up with seems to be that very fresh eggs that are hard boiled can sometimes be more difficult to peel.

I can live with that.

[A reward for anyone who has made it this far: I have several gmail invites to give away! The first few people to leave a comment or e-mail me with their favorite way to prepare/eat eggs get the invites.]

Posted by David Bogner on June 17, 2004 | Permalink

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I like Baal Teshuvah Eggs Benedict - Shuva Brand English Muffin, Lightlife's fake canadian bacon, poached eggs, and altered Benedict Sauce. Now you can invite me...

Posted by: AidelMaidel | Jun 17, 2004 9:22:54 AM

Your fresh Israeli eggs mixed with cinnamon, sugar, tad of milk, salt, vanilla and then soak your challah in it for French toast. (Grill on either side in a little butter and serve with ...more butter and syrup!
By the way, I love your blog. Check it a couple of times a day.
Invite me, too.
Carol
(Olim Chadishim - 7 months)

Posted by: Carol Feldman | Jun 17, 2004 9:49:13 AM

I love collecting trivia - will stick this at the back of my mind somewhere!

Posted by: Gil Ben Mori | Jun 17, 2004 9:51:41 AM

Nicetameetcha! So far two invites gone and the cyber-ink isn't even dry on today's entry! Anyone else?

Posted by: David | Jun 17, 2004 9:59:40 AM

Good to know, especially since our refrigerator is currently being repaired. Guess I can just live on eggs for a couple of days.

Posted by: shai | Jun 17, 2004 10:14:14 AM

Hm. From experience, I'd say Americans can be slightly pathophobic...and is it a wonder when you can get sued for anything like 1-2-3. Eggs over here [central Europe, Germany. Does it make me a bad Jew now???] are neither stored in the cooling section. For the same reason you've heard in Israel.
My fav egg use...sweet: omelette from eggs and cornflakes. Salty: omelette with onions, tomatoes and cumin [I'd loose on spelling the name].

No gmail invite, pls. I am happy with the competition who just upgraded to 100 mb free storage ;)

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jun 17, 2004 11:43:42 AM

Ummm, David, sorry to tell you but eggs don't pop out of a chicken's butt. I already have a gmail account (thanks, Gilly) but my favorite way fo eating eggs is a breakfast burrito. black beans and rice (could be leftovers from the previous evening), scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and/or sour cream (heart-healthy folks -- try eshel or even plain yogurt) and wrap it all up in a tortilla or a wrap. Lots of protein, fairly low in fat. The breakfast of champions.

Posted by: Noa | Jun 17, 2004 1:55:10 PM

Noa... I bow before your superior knowledge of animal anatomy. Being a guy, I make certain assumptions about where things come from if they are produced while sitting down. :-)

Also, I am considering starting a breakfast cookbook based on the quality and quantity of great ideas in today's comments.

Thanks!

Posted by: David | Jun 17, 2004 2:07:22 PM

My favorite way to eat eggs: poached, resting on a pile of salty, fatty corned beef hash. MMmmm mmmm good. It's a once-in-a-blue moon kinda meal, though...for obvious reasons.
I know of the joy of fresh eggs very well. We live near a residential rehab center that maintains a farm. They sell eggs, etc to offset their operating costs. I agree, fresh eggs aren't even in the same category as the oldies in the fridge case.

Posted by: Lisa | Jun 17, 2004 3:23:55 PM

Billy taught me how to make his favorite way to eat eggs. It is called Egyptian Eyeballs (I don't know what makes them Egyptian.)
Butter a piece of bread and cut a hole (about 1" diameter) in the center of the bread. Fry the bread until almost golden. Crack and pour raw egg into hole and fry a few more minutes. Turn once for less than a minute.
I don't want a gmail invite, I just want to know what it is!

Posted by: Lisa | Jun 17, 2004 7:08:52 PM

Over easy on top of hash browns and or toast.

Posted by: Joey | Jun 18, 2004 6:45:24 AM

Two techniques...

1) The omelet:
Use a small skillet with sloping sides; the French cast iron omelet pan is excellent, as
are the American restaurant-style anodized aluminum ones such as Calphalon. Use
of a nonstick pan lined with SilverStone (not teflon) will cut down on the melted butter.

Whip the egg/s with a little bit of cold water (not milk, which tends to weigh the
mixture down).

Sauté in a medium-hot pan generously buttered. Sauteéd shallots and parsley are
a nice addition to the egg mixture; sauteéd wild mushrooms are superb.

The technique is critical - keep the eggs moving in the pan, using a heatproof
spatula to draw the cooked eggs into the center. When the top starts to gel,
slide the omelet into the angle of the pan (now you see the reason for the sloped
sides) and quickly flip it over with a toss of your hand. Immediately serve by
folding the eggs onto the plate, don't put the pan back on the burner; the retained heat in the pan will set up the
other side of the omelet. The interior of the omelet should still be a little moist
and silky. Salt and pepper to taste.

2) Soft-boiled:
Boil at a rolling boil in salted water for 1-3 minutes. I like it between 1.5-2
minutes; at this timing, the white is solid, the yolk is hot, but still liquid.
Salt, pepper, paprika to taste; buttered toast cut in finger-sized pieces
make excellent accessories for yolk-dipping.

Obviously, you should have actual egg-cups and little spoons for service.
You can remove the top of the shell with a table knife, but there are other ways;
my grandmother used to have a wierdo scissors that snipped the top of
the shell off; it left a little lens of cooked white in the shell.

Gmail? Now, rather than later? OK...

Posted by: Peter Adler | Jun 18, 2004 2:21:53 PM

In Ireland, the eggs are never refrigerated either. I don't know of ANY country that I've been to in Europe where I've found eggs refrigerated. I've visited supermarkets in all the countries I've been to.

Sometimes, it is not backwardness. Sometimes it is just fresher food as you said! :-)

Our eggs aren't white either, they are brown! :-)

One of the strangest things I remember from Israel, (I lived there for a year) is the milk in a bag. Does milk still come in bags in the supermarket? That was totally alien to me, having only ever seen glass bottles and later tetra paks.

Posted by: laura | Jun 22, 2004 2:08:29 PM

this as un belivable as it sounds was really great for my science project.
thanks

Posted by: sara | Sep 8, 2006 4:01:57 AM

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