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April 16, 2014

All they're cracked up to be

Eggs break out on the haute cuisine scene

Don’t tell James Beard Award-winning food writer Michael Ruhlman that eggs are trending.

True, he’s got a new book out this spring, “Egg,” that’s all about the sunny little kitchen staples. And he’s certainly aware that more people are catching on to the fact that the egg is “just this really fabulous, versatile ingredient.” But the problem with eggs being trendy is that it implies they could — or maybe even did — fall out of fashion, which is not something he’ll entertain.

The egg, after all, can be “the height of refinement or the quintessential simple peasant dish. It can be four-star cooking, or it can be a last-minute, on-the-run lunch,” he says. “What can’t it do?”

Eggs, of course, are a basic ingredient and not likely to become tomorrow’s shrimp aspic. But their popularity is definitely on the rise.

According to the American Egg Board, consumption is at a seven-year high with Americans adding three eggs per person for each of the last three years, bringing the 2013 per capita total to just over 250 eggs.

Kevin Burkum, senior vice president of marketing for the egg marketing group, sees the increase as being partly about the shift toward protein-based breakfasts, as well as the fine dining trend that has turned eggs into the same type of dish-finishing flourish as bacon.

Need convincing? Try typing #putaneggonit in Pinterest.

“The fact is there is nothing that isn’t improved when you put a well-cooked egg on top of it,” Ruhlman says.

Andrea Slonecker, who also has a new book out, “Eggs on Top: Recipes Elevated by an Egg,” would agree.

“People are finding the value in a beautiful egg as a source of protein, as the main attraction in their meal,” she says.

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