by Lindsay Suto
Just as a freshly laid egg brings hope and excitement to the cold, dark morning, the egg moon brings anticipation of the joys of spring at the end of the cold, dark winter.
It is only with the recent advent of modern technology and commercial operations that eggs have become a year-round commodity. Throughout history, chickens only laid eggs for part of the year, requiring daylight and moderate temperatures. The spring climate is preferred for laying, which is why many traditional spring dishes include eggs as a key ingredient.
While we may never know whether the egg or the chicken came first, we can be certain that they both originated before historians. People have been consuming both eggs and the animals that produce them since the beginning of time. It is believed that the people of India were the first to domesticate fowl as early as 2300 BC, which made the collection of eggs much easier. The birds themselves were eaten much more often than the eggs, however, because the eggs were fertilized, hatched, and used to repopulate the supply of fowl.
The practice of domesticating fowl and collecting eggs spread to the surrounding areas, and the Chinese referred to fowl as “the domestic animal who knows time” because of the predictability of the egg production and daily rooster crow.
Eggs are symbolic of fertility, rebirth, and new life. It makes sense that the egg is the symbol of spring—as the first signs of vegetation pop from the dormant earth, and the animals give birth to their offspring. This may also explain why eggs are associated with Easter, the Christian holiday that celebrates new life and takes place each spring.
Eggs are arguably one of the simplest, most nutritious foods available. They contain all 22 amino acids, making them a complete protein. They are also one of the few natural sources of dietary Vitamin D, and now that fowl have been domesticated, they are easy to obtain.
Eggs have many uses, from their classic preparations as a staple on the breakfast table, to the more complicated culinary soufflés, frittatas and aioli, and of course the baker’s custards, cakes, and meringues.
Like all agricultural products, the closer we get to the process of production, the more sacred the season becomes. As more and more people take on their own backyard flocks, it is becoming easier to source eggs from local, healthy chickens.