Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This is an age-old question to which there is no right or wrong answer. If you believe in the Bible, the chicken came first.
“And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” (Genesis 1:19-20) Chickens are a type of fowl, so the Christian Bible says that chickens came first.
Your religion may be different, so you may hold a different belief about how the treasures of the earth came to be. In evolutionary science, both chickens and eggs came before man. Since both the birds and the eggs were on earth first, historians were not around to record which came first. Of course, a chicken cannot be born without the egg, and the egg cannot be laid without the chicken. Both chickens and eggs are important to providing nutrition! (www.aeb.org/kids)
So eggs have been around for ages! Christopher Columbus, who visited the New World when Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain paid for his voyage, set sail from Palos, Spain, on August 3, 1492 with laying hens which first supplied eggs and then chicken meat for the hungry crew.
Persons who raise chickens only have to go the coop to pick up an egg. Children like to collect eggs after they are laid. Hens lay eggs quite quickly. Actually, it takes 24 to 26 hours, resting for about 30 minutes and then starts to make another. Resting time increases the total time to lay an egg. Altogether, with all the resting times, the average hen lays about five eggs a week and with 52 weeks in the year, that is 260 eggs a year.
Whoever said an egg was round? An egg is not round, but oval or spheroid, meaning that the egg is like a sphere but not exactly like a sphere. That is because an egg is not perfectly round. An egg is a not-quite-round sphere with flattened sides. Try drawing an egg!
Trivia aside, the goodness of an egg is unmatched. Eggs are loaded with several nutrients. Vitamins come in the form of B vitamin group as well as A and D. The yolk of the egg is an excellent source of riboflavin, B12, and choline. Choline is the wonder nutrient that not only helps develop brains while the baby is developing but also protects you from age-related memory loss.
Eggs are rich in minerals, especially selenium. Eggs are also abundant in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids which protect our eyes from macular degeneration, among other benefits. Again, it is the yolk that is loaded with these nutrients. But isn’t it the same yolk you were told is bad for you?
Recent research indicates that though eggs have cholesterol, this cholesterol is the one that raises your ‘good’ cholesterol rather than the ‘bad’ one. Eggs are fairly rich in omega-3 fats. One egg provides six grams of protein, five grams of fat (1.5-saturated and 2-monounsaturated), and about half a gram of carbohydrate (About. com).
Too many eggs?
There is the usual concern about eating too many eggs. Breaking evidence in recent nutrition research at Kansas State University indicates that lecithin, another compound in egg, reduces the absorption of cholesterol, according to a peer review in the September issue of Journal of Nutrition. This recent research debunks the common belief that dietary cholesterol in eggs directly contributes to raising blood cholesterol.
One a day
You can eat at least one egg a day as the experiment demonstrated that phospholipid reduced the absorption of egg cholesterol in the intestine. Less absorption means less cholesterol introduced into the blood. The good news resulting from the research is that “people with normal cholesterol levels and no family history of cardiovascular disease should not worry about eating one to two eggs a day. There’s more overall nutritional benefit than harm to be gained from eating ‘nutrient-dense’ eggs – in moderation,” lead researcher Professor Sung Koo said.
So, you want your supply of daily protein? It is helpful to know that an egg contains a higher-quality protein than protein found in meat, milk or fish. Cook it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. At the start of the day, fried eggs are popular but some persons cannot accomplish this simple task to perfection.
There are several variations to frying an egg. With the right frying pan, you can try any of the following ways:
Sunny side up: cooked on one side only; the top part, containing the yellow, usually stays slightly liquid.
Basted: basically an egg sunny side up, in which oil is poured over the top rather than at the bottom of the pan.
Steam-basted: a variation of basted in which water is added to produce steam.
Over-easy: cooked on one side and then turned over for only a few seconds.
Over-hard: cooked on one side and then turned over until both sides are evenly cooked.
Jeanne Maguire, writing in Cooks Illustrated, reveals her secret for perfectly fried eggs.
“The trick is to have the pan at the perfect temperature, add the eggs all at once, and use a cover,” Maguire advises. Scientifically, she analysed the steps in frying an egg.
1. Start with the hardware. A non-stick pan is the best bet whether the pan is aluminium, stainless steel or even the well-seasoned cast iron.
2. The degree to which the pan must be heated before eggs are added. There is a point at which the egg is controlled in that when it lands in the pan at the correct temperature, it neither runs, sputters or bubbles but stays restrained and sets. This is when the white sets to give the correct texture. If the white is spread out too much, it becomes overcooked, rubbery and tough. When the white browns at the edges as soon as it hits the pan, you know that your pan is too hot and you are going to eat metal.
Heat the pan at low heat for five minutes. Add butter and allow it to melt, foam and subside before adding the egg.
3. Crack egg into a cup and slide into the hot skillet immediately.
4. Cover for two minutes during the cooking process to get the white and yolk properly cooked. For better flavour, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper before covering.
In a bowl, add eggs, salt and pepper, onions, rosemary or other herbs, and sometimes milk, beat well before placing the eggs in a frying pan. Basic scrambled eggs require you to keep stirring as the eggs cook, so the result is a slightly jellied mix.
If you do not stir the eggs in the pan to scramble them, you can make an omelette, adding cheese, vegetables and/or breakfast meats for filling. The result is a tight mass with a bread-like consistency that can be easily folded or put into sandwiches. Although most people enjoy eggs, they are served a little differently from country to country.
In America, an omelette might be filled with ham and cheese, while in France, an omelette might be filled with white asparagus and topped with Hollandaise sauce. A Spanish omelette is called a tortilla and often has potatoes inside. An Italian omelette is a frittata and all its filling ingredients are cooked right along with the eggs.
Eggs can also be baked, especially when made into omelettes or frittatas, an omelette containing hearty fillings such as vegetables, large pieces of meat, mushrooms and cheese.
Boiled eggs can be hard-cooked or soft-cooked (waxy). The difference is basically the consistency of the yolk – in soft-cooked eggs, the yolk is still runny.
The egg is broken and placed in a pan to be poached. Poaching is the action of cooking a broken egg, rather than one with the shell intact, in water.
Eggs are used for more elaborate dishes like custards, quiches, sauces, dressings and soufflés.
Eggs are celebrated in many ways. Eggs are associated with the Christian holiday Easter. When Christians first celebrated Easter, the exchange of eggs in springtime was already a centuries-old custom. Eggs have long been a symbol of rebirth in most cultures, and they were often wrapped in a gold leaf, or coloured brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of colourful flowers (www.goddessgift.com).
Egg Salad Week
Egg Salad Week is celebrated annually the week right after Easter Sunday. In United States (US) homes, families decorate hard-cooked eggs for Easter. After they are cooked, hard-cooked eggs should be kept in the refrigerator and used before a week is over. The week after Easter, many people turn their decorated hard-cooked eggs into egg-salad sandwiches. If egg salad is not your favourite, you can celebrate Egg Salad Week by making devilled eggs or another hard-cooked egg recipe you like.
Can you imagine a whole month for celebrating eggs? May is National Egg Month in the United States; in Jamaica, Egg Month is celebrated in October.
In the US, the day was created to increase sales after Easter when the hens keep laying and the off-take declined. Starting in May and running through summer, eggs are usually an even better bargain than they are the rest of the year.
Through the American Egg Board and other groups, the American egg industry celebrates National Egg Month in May to emphasise the virtues of home-cooked eggs. Egg farmers want cooks to remember that eggs are nutritious to eat and simple to make in many different ways and are more affordable at this time.
World Egg Day
This is celebrated on the second Friday of October each year. Worldwide, eggs are farmed and eaten in different cultures. There is even an International Egg Commission (IEC) that holds meetings for egg industry people from around the world. The IEC members declared World Egg Day so all the egg farmers on the globe could tell cooks about the value of eggs at the same time.
Chinese Egg Foo Yung patties are small, thick omelettes filled with bean sprouts and other vegetables. In Japan, very thin omelettes are cut into strips and tossed into soup, just like noodles. If you’ve never had any kind of omelette except an American one, World Egg Day might be a good time to try an omelette or a different egg dish from another land.
Crack it and open up to a whole new world of possibilities with the incredible egg!
Heather Little-White, PhD, is a nutrition and lifestyle consultant in Kingston. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 922-6223.
MILD CURRY OMELETTE
1 tbsp light sesame oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsps minced onion
2 tbsps thinly sliced scallion
1/4 cup diced red sweet
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 eggs, beaten
1. Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook for 20 seconds until fragrant, then stir in the onion, scallion, bell pepper, and salt. Cook for a minute or two until the vegetables soften. Sprinkle with black pepper, cumin, and turmeric; cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
2. Spread the vegetables evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Pour in egg, and cook gently until set, then turn over, and cook for an addition 30 seconds to firm. Roll omelette on to a plate to serve.
A poached egg on a sweet potato latke with smoked salmon.
These egg, shrimp and scallion pancakes are made from a recipe in Andrea Nguyen’s cookbook, ‘Into the Vietnamese Kitchen’. – MCT Photos
Ghoul-ash, noodles with egg slices for eyes.
Chocolate-chip egg rolls with chocolate dipping sauce.