Last Monday, the card that comes with the birthday gift from my mom and dad is simply titled, “Eggs.” A black and white photo (above) from Master Photographer, Ernesto “Judes” T. Echauz, its purity is noteworthy ”“ a basket of eggs with an errant one captured in mid-flight, and then a single cracked egg, its white dripping onto the card’s white borders. So mesmerized am I with the photo that I almost forget to read the inscription inside.
I love all eggs, a love that’s very well-documented in this website, from chicken to ostrich and even to bayawak. I judge a breakfast place by how well they do their eggs benedict and a morning meal at Kopi Roti always kickstarts my day right.
I have a special place in my heart however, for duck eggs. Characterized by their larger size and soil-soiled (weird pun there) exterior, it’s a momentous day when I can get my hands on some, usually at large markets in Cubao, Dapitan, or Chinatown, and of course at the weekend markets.
The shells of duck eggs are thicker and a bit more rubbery than those of chicken eggs, making them harder to crack. Duck eggs also have more albumen ”“ ergo, tougher, thicker whites than chicken eggs. This gives them more structure when cooked; and when used in baking, the extra protein creates additional height in cakes but disaster when making meringues and other egg white-only confections. Frankly, I only use duck eggs for custards, a dessert where the flavor is focused solely on the egg and enhanced only with cream and sugar.
Culinary expert and food columnist Reggie Aspiras once teased me about my “duck egg-love,” remarking that I was “…lucky to still be able to eat [those things] without having to worry about [your] cholesterol.” It’s not something I think about really, since I don’t survive exclusively on eggs after all. Eating duck eggs have spoiled me though. Their yolks, round and full, evoke the brilliance of a Boracay sunset and equally as much emotion. Indeed, I’ve cracked some chicken eggs open whose yolks are more orange than yellow, making me question the lackluster orbs marketed in the grocery as “eggs.”
Ah, but it’s the flavor of a duck egg that’s unforgettable. Possessing a thicker mouth-feel, its concentrated eggy-ness is pure and sweet, its intensity tasting like sunshine rounded with a few grains of truffle salt, the lingering aftertaste of which is erased by a bite of bread, one taste craving for the next.
Surely this is what eggs are meant to taste like.