Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eggs and Food Lies

Not 15 years ago my friend Clarrie loved mutton birds and Mary's Uncle George adored avocados.

They were each told they couldn't eat their favorite food because they had elevated cholesterol levels and mutton birds and avocados were bad for their hearts. Eggs of course were out of the question.

Well we all know now that mutton birds are loaded with omega 3 and avocados are high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E and contain one of the healthiest edible oils. But while these food lies are well understood not everyone yet realises that health authorities have backed away completely from the myth that eggs are bad for you because they are high in cholesterol.

Over 30 years of epidemiological surveys have consistently found no independent relationship between egg consumption and heart disease risk. The misconception around eggs and cholesterol stems from incorrect conclusions drawn from early research.

So Clarrie could have eaten his mutton birds and Uncle George his avocados and you don't have to limit the number of eggs you eat simply because they contain dietary cholesterol. How many more food lies are we currently being told? I for one am not waiting to hear that it's ok to eat the hand churned butter from the Agrarian Kitchen at Lachlan or the Pigeon Hole in Hobart. I will eat what I enjoy in moderation and sit back and watch the myth busting continue.

In case you are wondering, the egg pictured above is a quail's egg. It is atop a yellowfin tuna tartare mixed with green chillies and dressed with rocket. The plate is the stylist's own as they say. It bears my food crest designed and crafted by artist Tom Samek and his partner Tracy for my 55th birthday. The crest is a stylised E with the E formed from a rosemary stalk skewering the heads of a duck, a hare and a tuna.

Quail eggs are also very useful for topping escalopes of veal along with crossed anchovies to form tiny Schnitzel a la Holstein. They are also just the right size for making Scotch Eggs, wrapping them hard boiled with minced ham instead of sausage meat before crumbing and frying.

Duck eggs of course make wonderful omelettes and recently at the Agrarian Kitchen Rodney Dunn and Katheryn Wakefield made duck egg tajarin pasta served with hand made butter and julienned truffles.

On the subject of chook eggs a very special mention must go to those used by Steve Cumper at the Red Velvet Lounge at Cygnet. His own free range eggs dressed with a Hollandaise sauce and paired with his take on corned beef hash are almost as good a breakfast as his roasted black pudding with cider sauce and sautéed Huon Valley apples.

On the humble omelette I cannot finish without mentioning Annie Parmentier's cheddar and herb version (pictured below) served at Dev'lish Espresso in Hobart. Annie finishes the omelette in the oven so that, in contradistinction to the French version made with water, hers comes to the table fluffy and soft, deep and yellow and piping hot. I have not eaten a better omelette anywhere in Australia and Marco makes the best coffee in Hobart from a blend of two single origin Mexican beans. Thanks Annie and Marco and thanks also for helping the Tasmanian Devil with tips and donations through your eatery.


  1. I love eggs. Everything in moderation should be fine. I love quail eggs as well, which is a delicacy in Asia. My mum makes quail egg bird nest warm soup. I will need to get the recipe from her on my next trip home.

  2. Now that's a soup I would love to try Victor!

  3. It really does all start with an egg dosn't it?
    Like Victor, I love them also. So much so that I once said my that my last meal would probably feature them, poached, just so, their sunny yellow lava, freed by the gentlest of jabs from a well aimed fork, spilling over to greet the sourdough toast & the bacon from Boks, like three old mates at a wake, the holy trinity of brekkie icons.
    Duck eggs are so much richer than even free range hens eggs I reackon, wonder why apart from maybe diet, perhaps ducks just make them so?
    Did the hand churned butter come from cream from Rod & Sev's own cow? Do they add salt?
    On the question of omelettes(of which Annies looks superb btw) Is it omelet or is it omelette?
    An old school chef once said that he could pick a good cook by the way they made a simple omelet(te) & I have to agree. Though Laroussse Gastronmique & Ma Cuisine might not agree for purist reasons, finishing the omelet(te) in the oven delivers a superior result in my opinion.
    If you were to get very technical, this method comes close to a souffle omelet(te) however you would also have to add whipped egg whites to get the Blue Cordon of approval!

  4. We use a lot of eggs!
    Some of our favourite meals -
    Soft boiled eggs thrown into salad leaves at the last moment with crisp prociutto and avocado.
    Frittata - fry onions, chorizo and then whatever vegetables we can find, whisked eggs and cream into the fry pan, parmesan on top - finished under the grill so it's only just set.
    And our spoilt dog gets one every morning whisked into (rice)milk - what we call her "dognog"

  5. Thanks Steve and Hazel. Your mouth watering descriptions of country fresh egg dishes has inspired me to hit the kitchen.

  6. I LOVE eggs! I have a poached egg on toast every morning for breakfast. I have eaten eggs with almost gay abandon since I was a child. I wasn't at all concerned about any cholesterol or health issues. They just tasted great! To be honest even if they were bad for me I'd still eat them often.
    On my desert island "wish list" chooks are right up there.....

  7. Despite, being a fan of fancy food, my favourite all time meal remains the simple dish of just two freshly (slightly undercooked) poached free-range eggs on Steve Cumper's freshly baked sourdough bread with a hot pot of coffee.

    Of course, Victor's wok-fried duck eggs with chilli and coriander are not to be scoffed at either!

    Love the look of your kitchen by the way!

  8. Thanks guttertrash. Glad we share a love of eggs and Steve's are good. I have yet to try Victor's. Glad you like our kitchen. It get's a workout!


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