Growing up in North America we all, except those of us who raise our own, know that you buy eggs in the refrigerated section of a supermarket. They are offered next to the butter, cheeses, yoghurts, milk, and other prepackaged foods that “need” to be kept cold to remain fresh. One of the first things I noticed when traveling to the less developed world was that eggs are not refrigerated. First thought was, “no way am I taking the risk of eating those.” I had a vague recollection of a fellow traveler sick with salmonella in Mexico and he blamed it on the eggs. However, I like eggs and the fact was that if I wanted to eat them I was not going to find them in a refrigerated case, even in the occasional very western supermarkets around Cairo.
So, I bought some eggs. They were brown, as are most eggs at my local market, though white are available. There’s nothing special about the eggs I buy. They look and taste just like the cold ones I buy in the States and Canada. I do keep mine in the refrigerator once I get home and I wash them before I crack them into a pan or bowl, given sometimes, even though they come in a nice commercial package, there is still the stray feather or undesirable looking fleck of who knows what clinging to them upon removal from their carton.
One thing that is different about eggs here is that they don’t come in sizes. In any local market at home you can buy small, medium, large, or extra large eggs. You can buy organically grown, free range, no hormone, cruelty free, chickens get a massage every other day eggs, and more. Here, they’re brown or white. Some claim to be organic, but when I talked to a guy who works for an agriculture related NGO he said that organic in Egypt pretty much means that it is simply an agricultural product, and producers know that the word organic markets well to some westerners. They’re not big on regulation here. The eggs here are relatively the same size, however, in a single package you’ll find one that has room to jiggle around in its berth while others are like the person in the middle who needs two seats on an airplane. Forgive me if I’ve offended anyone here.
Just this morning, after sleeping in, it being the weekend, I had two eggs for breakfast. I slow fried a potato in a small amount of olive oil and water, threw in a few onions, garlic and fresh ground pepper. When the potatoes were tender and the onions just starting to brown I cracked a couple brown eggs (after cleaning them of course) over the whole mess and using my trusty wooden spoon turned and mixed my concoction until the eggs were perfectly done. Out of the pan, topped with a small amount of green chili salsa, I ate. A few hours later here, I’m still standing.
When I was in Vietnam I saw lots of eggs for sale at street food stalls, my preferred places to eat most everywhere. Besides chicken eggs there were typically goose eggs, duck eggs, and more. I figured the eggs were hard boiled, but soon noticed a local cracking one open, in which was a partially formed chick. Both curious and mildly alarmed I watched as the woman gobble down the wet furry little creature. She noticed me part way through crunching the contents of her egg and during the final moments of masticating started to laugh, held my eye, said, “delicacy,” and motioned that I try one. I raised my hand, gestured no thank you with a smile and walked on. I have my limits. At least at this point.