Eggs are pretty weird when you think about them too hard. But they are also delicious, convenient, and highly versatile – as is demonstrated by the regional variations on show around the world. If you’re planning to travel, and want to know what the egg world has in store for you, or if you just want to add a bit of exoticism to your weekend brunch, you can do a lot worse than making a trip to the supermarket with a list of ingredients for some of our international neighbours’ signature yolk n’ albumen dishes.
The North African ‘shakshuka’, for example is a real humdinger. Fried and garnished with spices and salty feta, red peppers and tomato give it that extra kick. This one could well be considered a kill-or-cure hangover remedy. The Chinese have a more mellow alternative: egg flower soup is a comforting treat, with peas and mushrooms adding body to the chicken-based broth. Soy and rice wine ensure the Asian spin still delivers with every mouthful.
The Scotch Egg, which stretches way beyond Scotland to the whole of the British Isles, is something of a reliable classic. A boiled egg is wrapped in meat and breadcrumbs, making for a substantial picnic side-dish with no nonsense. Contrast this with the Philippines, where their notorious ‘balut’ consists of a boiled, fertilized duck egg eaten straight from the shell, and you’ll start to believe there’s little you can’t learn about the world through the consumption of regional egg specialities.
After all that savoury weirdness, though, you’ll want to sweeten your palette – and there’s no need to hold back on the egg mission now. French meringue is a crunchy dessert that hits you right in the sweet tooth, and is made from just the egg white and sugar. Combine it with cream and fruit, though, and it becomes a complex of flavour and texture that feels quite Gallic, and quite decadent.
If you’re still not overdosed on eggs, check out the infographic below that explores some of the other weird and wonderful ways that different cultures deal with the small oval ones. Always buy free range, but other than that – perhaps don’t think too hard about where they come from.
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