“An egg is always an adventure; the next one may be different.”Oscar Wilde
Maximilien’s latest favorite gouter (snack)? The hard-boiled ovum of Coturnix Coturnix. And whereas he has many of the same food limitations of other four-year-olds, he continues to walk his own path in many respects: He pleads for a couple cloves of garlic confit every time I ladle them into a barquette at the Saturday marché; he crunches happily on cornichons and a variety of olives; he’s something of an aficionado of goat cheese (‘chèvre’ was one of his first French words), although he prefers sheeps’ milk (brebis). He is fascinated with escargot, but won’t eat them.
And now, quail’s eggs.
“Ouef, papa! Petit ouef!”
We’re happy to indulge. They’re easy to find in the markets, easier still to prepare, and a good time killer to let him crack and peel them himself. They average @ 9 grams each, so he can go to town on 4 or 5 of them before approaching the mass of a single chicken egg.
Loaded with B12, selenium, a decent amount of protein, and roughly twice the iron and riboflavin of hens eggs, they also qualify as a ‘healthy snack’. And they’re just cool. And speckled.
Technically, they don’t taste much different from chicken or duck eggs, it’s more of an aesthetic option. They do have a higher yolk-to-white ratio, so the consistency is creamier when used in cooking or baking (maybe a tad ‘more’ flavor due to the higher yolk content). Did I mention they’re speckled?
They feature in a lot of street/bar foods around the world – kwek-kwek in the Phillippines, hard boiled, dipped in an orange batter, deep fried and served with a sweet and sour sauce; In Thailand, a mouthful of a name, khanom krok khai nok krata, for a mouthful of crispy whites and runny yolks, dipped in Sriracha; fried up in dosas in India; baked in coarse salt and spices in Hong Kong; mini Scotch eggs in the UK; the occasional raw yolk topping a tartare entrée in France.
Consumption of quail eggs has increased 5-fold since 1990, (for some reason the year the planet re-discovered the quail egg after years of plateaued interest) and now hovers around 7.5 billion eggs per year, or about one for every person on the planet. That’s still dwarfed by the staggering 1.3 trillion chicken eggs we eat annually, but still…nothing to sneeze at.
Chez nous we use them cracked and broiled on top of pizza with a sauce of spinach, crème fraiche, and parmesan, punctuated with peppadews, Serrano ham, and comté. Or just peeled and dipped in celery salt and pepper, washed down with a nice glass of Viognier…