THE INCREDIBLE EGG
The use of eggs were both depicted and referred to in some of the most ancient and notable cultures, such as that of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans alike.
They were a valuable commodity, and not just for their nutrition alone in fact, but as part of their mainstream culture and beliefs. For example, did you know that Romans used to crush the shells on their plates to ward off evil spirits that may be lurking?
Eggs have also been the subject of some of the most famous and exquisite works of art. They have been used as a display of of ornamental wealth by some of the worlds richest and most powerful people.
These pieces of art are incredibly valuable, and are still very much prized and sought after today.
The celebration of Easter comes and goes each year, but precisely how does ‘the egg’ fit into it all?
Rather bizarrely, in all my years I neither knew the answer, nor questioned the tradition, to me it was always another great excuse for chocolate!
As one might assume, there is a direct link to religion. It is a Christian celebration of ‘new life’ that stems from the biblical reference to the resurrection of Jesus.
The first eggs given at Easter were birds eggs, brightly painted to further personalize and give greater meaning to the gift.
Anglo-Saxon legend recounts the tale of the ‘Goddess Eostre’ who found a wounded bird and turned it into a hare, so that it may survive through the winter. The hare discovered that although it was no longer a bird it could still lay eggs, so it decorated them each spring and left them as an offering to the Goddess in gratitude.
In the Orthodox faith, eggs are painted red to symbolise the blood of Jesus on the cross.
Whatever the religious connection, the painting of eggs is a tradition that has continued today, even into modern secular nations.
THE ‘EGGS’ FACTOR
Eggshells come in a whole range of colours from the extremes of black through to white.
The colour of the eggshell is a pigment which is deposited near the end of the production cycle of an egg.
There is no link between shell colour and nutritional value.
The eggshell membrane, which is visible when one peels a boiled egg, is composed of proteins like ‘Collagen 1’. These may be used commercially as a dietary supplement.
The egg white (Albumen), is loose and clear when freshly laid. It is approximately 90% water and 10% proteins. When cooked it solidifies and turns white. Its primary function is to protect the yolk and provide supplementary nutrition during the growth of an embryo.
It is worth noting that egg white contains no fat or cholesterol! It is also used in the preparation of Influenza vaccines.
The yolk is usually round and firm. The older an egg becomes, the more the yolk starts to absorb the albumen around it. This causes the yolk to enlarge and weaken. the yolk eventually collapses and flattens becoming misshapen in appearance.
Colour intensity and hue of the yolk is governed by the diet and health of the animal.
There are numerous abnormalities that can occur within eggs, some of the most common and notable ones are illustrated below. It is worth noting that these are not dangerous or harmful in any way, however they are more intriguing than appealing from an eating perspective, as their appearance is fundamentally flawed.