Every spring, ostrich eggs appear at Whole Foods, where they nestle in beds of straw alongside the more diminutive and mundane quail and duck eggs. Glimpsing one is a little like watching that video of a pig suckling some tiger cubs: a novel and slightly surreal display of the animal kingdom's quirkier side.
Most shoppers pause to look at them quizzically, perhaps remembering the "Top Chef" contestant whose doom was sealed by an ostrich egg quiche. Others pick them up, marveling at their weight (about 3 pounds) and size. Very few people actually seem to buy them -- aside from the "What on earth do I do with this thing?" factor, there's the additional deterrent of the price tag: each egg, which is the equivalent of about 18-24 chicken eggs, costs $39.99. That's is a lot to pay for breakfast, even if it will feed 10 of your closest friends. But according to one Whole Foods manager, the eggs are oddly popular, particularly among those cooking for office parties. Apparently hummus and carrot sticks just aren't what they used to be.
Though their size may be intimidating, ostrich eggs are surprisingly easy to cook. Their shell is literally their biggest barrier, and that can be easily breached with the help of a hammer. Once you're in, you're pretty much free to do as you please. The watery consistency of the yolk and albumen lends itself to easy blending, and combined with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, some good cheese and whatever other fillings you prefer (the one here employed one bunch of kale, chopped up and sautéed in olive oil, and half a pound of Zingerman's Cheshire), the egg is perfect for scrambling. Its texture is lighter and fluffier than that of a chicken egg, and it has a milder, faintly sweeter taste that's incredibly delicious. It's little wonder that places like The Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, which sells the eggs for $15 apiece, are trying to increase their popularity. With a little bit of PR savvy, these beauties could be the next breakfast of champions -- or at least the toast of office parties nationwide.