One of the cooler things about working for Pepper.ph is that I get to try odd and unusual food from all over. Not all of these (mis)adventures find their way on to the site, of course, but every once in a while, I encounter something that makes me think it deserves a post of its own.
This is one of those times.
A few days ago, I made a new friend. His name is Eggward. In case you guys haven’t noticed, Eggward’s an egg. Now, some might say it isn’t right for me to treat my food like a person. I shouldn’t give it (him) names or use personal pronouns. Do not listen to these people. They’re just trying to trick you into eating a salad and hugging a tree.
Eggward’s a very special egg. But I suspect, unless you have an inherent aversion to reading the titles of articles you click on, you already know why he’s special. Simply put, Eggward’s a (failed) Ostrich baby.
He’s a pretty hefty little dude. I had to plop him down on his own nest of crumpled up paper bags to keep him from rolling around while I measured him. Eggward is 6.5 inches long from pole to pole and about 16 inches around the widest part of his belly. He weighs 3lbs, which is roughly half a newborn human baby.
The thing with numbers, though, is that they’re hard to put into usable context. People are visual creatures. We need to see something in order to best understand it. It’s the reason why infographics are such a hit on the Internet. What we need is a concrete example to compare Eggward’s size with. Fortunately, that’s easily done.
Eggward is on the left, he’s the ostrich egg. The egg on the right is from a chicken (which I refuse to name, because frankly, chickens (and their eggs) get enough press as it is. They’re such attention whores).
When I first posted Eggward on my Instagram, people asked what he was. I answered that he’s a dinosaur egg. They thought I was kidding, but I really wasn’t. Have you seen an ostrich? More importantly, have you seen an ostrich’s evil murder feet? Those things are terrifying. They are literally just velociraptors in drag, ones with a preference for gaudy pink and flamboyant feathers.
Ostriches are some of the most sinister creatures on earth. Some people have a phobia against spiders, others can’t stand snakes, I want a court-mandated restraining order against each and every ostrich that exists (or any other big bird taller than I am that isn’t yellow). Just thinking about them, or saying their name aloud, makes me involuntarily flinch. I have this recurring nightmare where I’m pecked by one on my neck, just once but with terrible intent, I then die from blood loss as the (evil) bird watches. Gleefully.
I ate ostrich tapa once and enjoyed it immensely. Not because of the taste, but because I was happy that at least that particular bird won’t get the chance to kill me (because it’s dead). Anyway, enough about the birds.
Aside from the dramatic size variance, chicken and ostrich eggs have a number of significant differences. My chicken egg from the grocery was a brilliant (almost blueish) white, though I’m not sure if that’s a natural occurrence or if the people who run the chicken factories chemically bleach each egg clean before shipping it out. Eggward, on the other hand, was a yellowish-beige color, similar to the school polo shirts they always use on those laundry detergent commercials.
Eggward’s surface was covered by innumerable dimples and depressions. If you stare at it too long, you start to question whether he’s really supposed to be food. The shell just looks so alien when observed up close. I read on the Internet that the egg shell is supposed to be strong enough to support a full grown man’s weight. Since I’m not really sure what the scientist who discovered that little factoid considered “a full grown man” (I’m a little larger than average), I decided not to risk it.
Besides, knowing me, I’d slip, fall off, and hurt myself. Then I’d have to live with two or so weeks of having to explain to people that I sprained my ankle because I tried to stand on an egg. Such a manly injury, that.
Opening Eggward was an adventure in itself. Like the first time I read Game of Thrones, my heart was forced to go through a gauntlet of unexpected emotions in unrelenting succession.
First came the delight of opening an egg with a hammer and a nail, a goofy enough premise to make anybody with a soul happy. Next was the confusion at seeing the first, shy egg tendril venture outside of its (literal) shell. I hunkered down to watch this strange sight, as the egg seemed to spit in the face of physics, being liquid and yet acting like a solid at the same time. Then, the floodgates opened as the white started gushing out in big semi-fluid blobs. It was a disgusting sight, but I stood firm. Finally, just when I think the worst is over, I’m caught unaware as something new and unexpected makes itself known. I try to last as long as I could, but in the end, I’m defeated. I flee in the face of this yellow horror birthing itself heave by jiggly heave.
It was truly an intense experience.
There was a lot of actual egg in Eggward. It filled up 2 inches of a bowl that was 8 inches in diameter. I don’t know how many cups that is, or how it translates to chicken egg ratios, and I really can’t be bothered to do the math. Sorry.
The white and yolk felt a lot more viscous than a chicken egg’s. It held together much tighter than I expected it would, pushing my wire whisk to its surface by itself and refusing to let me divide it into different bowls. After wrangling with the goop for a bit, I was finally able to separate it into individual ramekins for my cooking and taste tests.
The first dish I made was plain scrambled (ostrich) eggs. I wanted to really taste the egg by itself in order to determine if there was anything special about it.
A lot of people on the net say that it tastes just like chicken eggs, I disagree. It’s a lot richer for one, and creamier too, despite the fact that I added neither butter nor cream. In fact, it’s so rich that you’re almost guaranteed to get sick of it before you finish even one serving. The flavor too was significantly different. Personally, it reminded me of penoy. Imagine a giant, fluffy penoy omelette, that’s what scrambled ostrich eggs taste like.
I also made banana bread with some of the egg. I was curious if it would change the flavor profile of baked goods at all. It didn’t, but the texture did become unusual (but not unpleasantly so). Instead of the usual bread/cake texture, my ostrich egg banana bread had a much denser interior. It still tasted the same, mind you, but the mouth feel was a little confusing. The best way for me to describe the end result is that it’s like a love child between a bibingka and the egg pie custard filling from your neighborhood bakery.
Again, this is not a bad thing, just different.
The reason I took such care with opening Eggward, instead of just whacking him with the blunt side of a cleaver, was because the shells actually hold their value pretty well. I’ve seen empty ostrich eggs sell for as much as Php 350.
If you ever find yourself in possession of an ostrich egg shell, whether bought that way or left behind from breakfast, there several different options you can pursue. My own Eggward explored a plethora of post-retirement activities. He partied for a bit, then grew a hipster moustache,then got really into Despicable Me. He tried to settle down and raise an egg family but the marriage quickly went south and pretty soon he was on Brokeback Mountain. He played in the PBA, tried to touch the moon, and vacationed in Bora before settling down to be the Norse god of thunder. No, I don’t understand why he sometimes has eyes, and other times doesn’t, either.
Ostrich eggs are sold anywhere from Php 500-750 in Metro Manila. Are they worth it? If you split the cost with a few of your buddies, just so you can all experience the joy of penoy–flavored breakfast, maybe. It’s hard to say. Then again, you get to mess around with a giant egg. A. GIANT. EGG. You can’t put a price on something like that. Giant versions of normal sized things are always a buy in my book.