Egg | Varyer
EggReview
Varyer
November 2021

Here we present a humble review of the most perfect object in existence - the egg. With endless facets of this ovoid to address, we’ve sporadically recalled the features, feelings, and influences of the egg and its impact on existence.

It is its own container

Growing up, salmonella poisoning propaganda was everywhere. As a result, most tend to overcook their chicken and panic about raw eggs. In actuality, the shell of an egg is an incredibly well-engineered package from inception. Farm fresh eggs like you’ll collect from a CSA program and often find at farmers’ markets still have their ‘bloom’ intact which protects bacteria and dust from passing through the shell. Eggs like these can be left on the counter for two whole weeks with no fear of food poisoning - a dream for bakers. Grocery store eggs are washed and pasteurized which removes this protective layer, but even beneath the shell is another membrane. These can last in your refrigerator for up to two months, yes months. Consider these delicate, strong, then firm layers when the next time you spend 40 minutes on a ten-step skincare routine, “May I blessed with the impermeability and glow of egg.”

Carbonara

Do yourself a flavor and commit to memory at least 10 recipes that have 5 ingredients or less. Yes, this tip is cooking 101 but even as a seasoned (heh) adult and parent with professional culinary experience, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with preparing a meal that meets the high standards of my palate without challenging my low levels of motivation. Of course, a handful of these are gonna be a pasta and/or egg situation - the time it takes to boil is perfect for a quick prep, while the result is always fortifying. Bring a big, salty pot of water to a boil. Chop and cook up some cured pork, typically bacon or guanciale, set the crispy meat aside, and reserve the fat. In a small bowl add an egg yolk per person, a whole lot of cracked black pepper, and grated pecorino or parm - typically a fluffy handful - 2 ounces, 4 ounces? Something like that. Splash in some bacon grease, or more like a hefty glug, and mix it all up. By now, your pasta is probably in the water or if not, it’s ready to be. Once it’s done, scoop out some pasta water (a little less than 2 cups) and drain the noodles. Whisk less than half of your hot pasta water into your egg mixture in your hot empty pasta pot, and throw the hot noodles in there too. Most of the time, the residual heat from the pan, stovetop, and noodles is enough to cook the sauce and overcooked carbonara is nearly inedible. Stir it real fast so your cheese melts evenly until it’s thickened and the noodles are glossy. Too thick? Add some more pasta water. Too thin, go ahead and put that bad boy on low, but you better keep stirring. Top with your crispy pork, more cheese, and pepper, and enjoy the simplicity yet richness that only egg can provide.

A perfect hardboiled egg

Those who are devoted to egg as a snack or even meal centerpiece, are equally as devoted to strict cooking methodologies for every preparation. Over medium, sunny side up, poached, soft-boiled with a jammy center - once the method is nailed down the timing and tools become a reflexive and personal practice for the preparer. For Chris Kaskie, his perfect hardboiled egg requires bringing the pot of water to a boil, turning it off, adding your eggs, and then turning it back on - cooking it just above a simmer for 5-7 minutes and then straight into cold water. If your eggs are bumping into each other in the tumultuous boil, or your yolks are always slightly overcooked, perhaps the troubleshoot that has never failed IT will bring you to boiled egg glory - try turning it off, then turning it back on again.

How to Boil an Egg

Rose Bakery, a small Anglo-French bakery, shop, and restaurant, opened in Paris in 2002, serving fresh, simple, and healthy food. You think you know eggs but Rose Carrarini puts them on the pedestal they deserve in this collection of simple and satisfying ways to prepare them. Over 80 original recipes are joined by 40 photorealistic hand-painted images by artist Fiona Strickland. Fiona’s breathtaking illustrations are as soothing and sophisticated as the recipes they accompany. Flipping through the lush paintings and perfect typography is almost as satisfying as enjoying the comforting dishes within.

Noteworthy Eggs

Greg the egg, Gudetama, Doctor Eggman, Green eggs & ham, Humpty Dumpty, Edie & the Egg Man, Exeggcute.

Egg/Art

When we decided to write an editorial piece about eggs, we knew immediately that we needed to make sure to cover their range - eggs aren’t just food, they are also a symbol of new life, of unhatched potential, of fertility, and of earth. That’s why eggs are a common subject in art - if you haven’t noticed them in artwork from across time and place before, your next visit to an art museum will be egg-ceptional (sorry, had to.)

While researching, we realized that no one, be it an art historian or food blog, has really pulled together a cohesive list of artworks that features eggs, and this could be because the feat is too large to actually do. You could almost google any famous artist you know plus the word egg and something will come up. (We tested this in the office and the only person who did not have an egg artwork who we thought of was Karel Martens, congrats to Senior Designer, Becca Christman on picking him.)

The other thing that we learned while googling “eggs and art” was that if an artist has depicted an egg once, they have depicted an egg a hundred times. Famous artist Salvador Dalí, for instance, featured eggs (of all varieties - uncracked, broken open, cooking, etc.) in his artwork more times than can be counted, and both as the main imagery or as a small detail.

The below list is a selection of 15 egg artworks. Where possible, we link to the collection that they belong to, if not, we link to the most official/informative website we could find. Egg-joy!

Egg as Subject

So eggs in artworks are clearly a thing. But what about eggs as canvas? We touch on it a little bit in the list above with Fabergé eggs, but did you know that the custom of decorating eggs has been around since prehistory?

An Abridged Timeline of Decorating Eggs or Egg as Canvas:


  • In 2010, archaeologist Pierre-Jean Texier found 270 eggshell fragments from Howieson Poort Shelter, a South African cave, that date back as early as 60,000 years ago.

  • As early as 2,500 years ago, ancient Persians would paint eggs for their new year.

  • The history of decorating eggs for the Christian holiday of Easter started at least as far back as the 13th century when England’s King Edward I ordered eggs to be dyed and given as gifts in 1290.

  • In the late 1880s, the owner of a drug store in Newark, New Jersey invented the dye tablets that are still used to color eggs today.


We know what you’re thinking - “Wow, eggs are incredible! They symbolize so much to humans and play an active role in our visual and social traditions.” But hold on to your seat, because there is so much more.

Eggs are seen in artwork, and they’ve been used as the canvas for artwork, but they also play a role as a medium (the materials and supplies an artist uses to create artwork) as well. Enter egg tempera.

While fresh eggs in your refrigerator can last up to two months, a mixture of the insides with pigment and painted on a wooden surface can last almost 2,000 years. While it’s unclear who used eggs in their paintings first (an analysis of mummy portraits from the first few centuries A.D. show egg as a material used, but it was first mentioned in Greco-Roman texts by Vitruvius and Pliny,) egg tempera really rose in popularity during the Renaissance due to its lasting nature as well as the fact that the colors don’t really fade with age.

Tempera paint lost its favor with the invention of oil-based paints, which allowed for blending and versatility. However, the use of eggs in medium came back in the mid-19th century as an aid in developing photographic prints. Essentially, a piece of paper would be coated with egg white and salt and then left to dry, creating a glossy surface. Once dried, the paper is dipped into a silver nitrate solution, making the paper sensitive to UV light. The paper would be once again dried, this time in the absence of UV light. Once dried, a negative would be placed on top of the paper and exposed to light until the desired darkness is achieved. Finally, the photograph goes into another solution of sodium thiosulfate, which fixed the image permanently. This process, called the albumen process, became the most commonly used in the 19th century.

While neither egg tempera nor the albumen process are used as much as they were in the Renaissance or 19th century, there are still champions of the techniques in the contemporary art world, including Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009,) Koo Schadler, and Morgan Post.

Comforting to l👀k at Comforting to l👀k at

Fashion Eggs

“The egg obsession is something that we've been working up to. At one point in 2019, the most liked photo on Instagram was a random egg. The pandemic has only amplified the egg's power, imbuing it with unexpected meaning. After more than a year of being cooped up, overwhelmed, out of sorts, we can see something of a fresh start - rebirth - in the symbolism of the egg that feels all too necessary as many begin to plot their escape into plein air. For those stepping an uneasy foot out of the house for the first time, there's comfort in eggs' soft, soothing color palette; their shape without a single hard edge.”

Kristen Bateman, InStyle Magazine - April 2021

To summarize: Egg is comfort. Egg is food. Egg is life. Egg is art. Egg is fashion. Egg is everything.


And BTW, here’s a definitive answer of what came first: the chicken or the egg (at least for English speakers.)