Egg dishes,  Ingredient,  Technique

Egg-centricity: A taste test

(Photo courtesy of Lynn Osborn)

It’s almost Passover and Easter, a perfect time to share results of an egg taste test by guest contributor, Stan Rowin.

First, some background. Stan is a photographer who started his career taking photos in Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen, now a culinary mecca at the Smithsonian. The same Julia who never got rattled by a fallen soufflé or a splattered pancake showed Stan her perfectionist side during a shoot.

“Julia was doing a chapter on eggs, and she wanted to show how fresh eggs look when fried,” says Stan. Then the frenzy began. “Out of three dozen eggs, she got one egg that looked good, but couldn’t find a second symmetrical egg white. So she sent out for three dozen more. Somewhere in that second batch she found two usable for a photo.” (By the way, the one who hunted down those photogenic eggs was Sara Moulton, star of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.”)

Years later, Stan moved to a rural upscale Boston suburb where “almost everyone but me grows their own eggs: chicken, ducks, whatever.” He remembered Julia’s egg mania.

“So I decided to do a taste test,” he says. “Fresh store-bought eggs versus day old hatched local eggs (they’re supposed to age a day).

(Photo by Stan Rowin) Top: Farm-fresh egg from neighbor. Bottom: Premium store-bought egg.

“I compared a neighbor’s egg (as opposed to Julia Child’s) and a ‘premium’ store-bought egg. The neighbor’s fresh egg had a darker yolk and a more compact white when fried.” Score one for the farm egg.

Then came the tasting of both hard-boiled and fried eggs. “We made the taste test as blind as we could with eight unprofessional tasters, including the neighbor who supplied the fresh eggs. While we had definitely seen a difference in yolk color, no one could taste any real difference with their eyes closed.” Tie.

There you have it. Farm-fresh eggs look better and have what Stan calls the “tightie whities” that Julia sought. But, as Stan reports, they may not taste any different from supermarket eggs. However, if you want Julia Child perfection, find a neighbor with chickens.

Note: Big thanks to Stan Rowin for this story. J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats and The Food Lab concurs with him. Kenji went so far as coloring eggs green in “The Food Lab: Do ‘Better’ Eggs Really Taste Better?” He concluded that the mindset of the taster has far more bearing on the flavor of the egg than the egg itself.

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