I have a love affair with the egg.
Out of all of the ingredients in the world, not one captures my attention the way that the chicken egg does.
By itself it’s quite remarkable, able to be boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, or baked. Each of these methods of preparations highlight something different. Yes, the albumen brings a slight tofu-like consistency. And the yolk? The yolk is a present on Christmas morning. It brings the flavor and the color. Without it, you have subtlety. With it, the world opens up.
It is the basis of my favorite meal of the day – breakfast. But it is at home for lunch and dinner. Carbonara, phad thai, and fried rice are all better when eggs are added.
The real magic of eggs comes when you look beyond the basics. Want to liven up your pastries? Brush a little egg wash on your crusts. Want to give your cake some flavor complexity? That’s one of several reasons why eggs are added.
And let’s not forget the magic that is the egg white. Meringues are a miracle of both science and texture. Whipped egg whites can make batters lighter and airier.
Yolks? Whipped yolks give themselves to everything from custards to mayonnaise to steak tartare.
It’s easy to take the egg for granted. It is, after all, quite ubiquitous. But what this simple little piece of food brings to our world is something that is borderline miraculous.
Note: For great bits on the egg, read either Michael Ruhlman’s take on the egg in his Elements of Cooking, or Harold McGee’s in depth coverage in his On Food and Cooking.