“But what is that of every hue~Rowena Bennett
you carry in your basket?
Tis eggs of gold and eggs of blue;
I wonder that you ask it.”
We are, all of us, very familiar with the archetypal, historical and cultural significance of the egg, ideas and beliefs that stretch back long before Christianity. In both form and function, the egg is the indelible representation of life, fertility, new beginnings, hope and immortality. In China, one-month-old infants are thrown red egg and ginger parties that not only celebrate the child’s health, but also the mother’s. In Scandinavia and Russia, clay eggs were put in tombs to ensure life after death and the Egyptians believed that their eight main deities, including the well-known sun god Ra, were born from an egg laid by an ibis.
The lore goes on and on, from the Hindu Brahma birthed from a golden egg to the to the Polish tradition of painted and “written” eggs; Pisanki, Kraszanki, Malowanki, etc. Even Peter Cottontail himself, or the hare he represents, carrying a basketful of brightly colored eggs is tied to an ancient, Pagan deity who embodies abundance, growth and eternal spring.
It’s somehow comforting to know that these cultural commonalities exist, supporting the idea that we are a whole, we are all one, we are all pretty much alike reflected in the beauty, hope and life that is the egg…but…but…can we eat them now? After all, they are delicious, nutritious, “incredible” and “edible” just like they say and since we’ve entered the first throes of Spring, it only seems natural we pay tribute to this most adaptable delicacy.
Over on the corner of Magazine and General Pershing Streets, Chef Justin Devillier (who was just nominated for the 2012 James Beard “Best Chef of the South” award) shows his appreciation for that oval wonder with what has become one of his signature dishes. A single, raw quail’s egg is cracked over a luscious mound of mouth-watering steak tartare served with red wine mustard and house made rye crackers to scoop it all up.
Recently opened, Sweet Olive in the Saint Hotel on Canal Street offers hard boiled quail’s eggs in an appetizer featuring Louisiana Crabmeat with artichoke and sliced red potato in creamy Remoulade-like sauce. The owner, Mike Stoltzfus, also owns Coquette on Magazine and Washington that just so happens to offer a dish of Pickled Baby Beets served with a soft boiled egg, bacon and goat cheese dressing.
Down on Julia Street, Chef Phillip Lopez at ROOT Restaurant gives a whole new meaning to that classic, picnic favorite, the deviled egg. Perfectly pickled, tender Louisiana Shrimp are combined with a truffled egg yolk mousse making it easily one of the most talked about dishes at the hip, Warehouse District restaurant…well…if you don’t count the Korean Fried Chicken Wings or Aloo Gobi.
The ubiquitous farm egg tops everything from the grass-fed beef burgers at Cowbell on Oak Street to the maple-glazed roasted chicken at Dante’s Kitchen in the Riverbend. Chef Link’s Herbsaint Restaurant on St. Charles Avenue even offers a poached and fried version of the farm egg that they serve atop a pile of the house made spaghetti with guanciale.
Sylvain Restaurant, only a half block away from the St. Louis Cathedral on Chartres Street, serves a pickled farmers egg in it’s Southern Antipasti dish, along with pickles, artisan cheeses, country ham and house made mustard. At Sylvain’s sister restaurant in the CBD, Capedeville will top the “Robert Paulson Burger” ie. Turkey meatloaf with a fried egg, caramelized onions, spinach and Russian dressing.
In essence, when you are eating them scrambled, boiled (hard or soft), poached, fried, over-easy, sunny-side up, whipped, shirred, deviled or baked, try not to think too deeply on the intense societal, cultural and religious significance of this miracle…just enjoy it!
*Article originally published in the April 2012 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
*Sweet Olive, ROOT, Dante’s Kitchen and Capdeville are all closed.