Eggs are all they're cracked up to be

The oval is considered nature's most perfect shape. The egg goes even further. It not only pleases the eye, but the palate as well. But even if they came triangular or square (ouch), eggs would still have universal appeal to cooks.

Imagine the epicurean world without them: Flans would flounder, puddings would plummet, souffls would sink, and breakfast would be a bomb. Bacon and kumquats? No way. Sausage and M&Ms? Ain't gonna happen. Steak and pickles. I don't think so. Zucchininog? I'll pass.

Wherever birds and mankind have flocked together, eggs have been on the menu. Although most of the world now gets its eggs from domesticated chickens, it's not always been so. In Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" upper-class Oxford boys supped on freshly gathered speckled plover eggs. Then there's Martha Stewart, who fancies the pale greenish-blue eggs she gathers from her impeccably feathered flock of Chilean aracaunas.

It has been said that you can't sell a New Englander a white egg, or anyone else in the US a brown one. "Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh." So goes the commercial jingle on New England radio. Color aside, all chicken eggs are considered equal.

An egg, like a chicken, is something of a house divided. Whereas a chicken has white and dark meat, an egg has a yolk and white. That's fine when it comes to whole-egg dishes like omelets and eggnogs. But what do you do with leftover yolks after you've whipped up a show-offy Baked Alaska, or a batch of meringues - or the whites after you've made a flan?

You can save them for later use: Whites freeze very well in plastic containers or zip-top bags. (Just be sure and mark the number of whites you've frozen in each bag.) And yolks keep for several days if covered with a bit of water and refrigerated. It all makes a lot more sense than feeding them to the dog.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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