Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicken fanciers take a field trip

There's a visible, if not dramatic, difference between the fresh eggs from our hens and supermarket eggs. The fresh yolk (at the bottom) is brighter orange. It's also firmer. Is it technically a better egg? Probably! How could it not be?

But I'm not a food scientist, and I can't taste a difference because I don't eat eggs. What I can say with complete authority is that it's thrilling to go into the yard and collect eggs. Like Easter for grownups. Like magic. Which is, I suppose, how another generation felt about supermarkets.

I don't want to become one of those people who burbles on about animals, so I won't burble on, I will just burble briefly. It gives me immense satisfaction, every day, to watch the chickens pecking around, taking dust baths, chasing the squirrels. They are beautiful, funny, inquisitive birds, and they run to see me whenever I emerge from my castle. I  feel like Ozma of Oz. They adore me and bring me tribute. 

And I adore them back, bringing them choice scraps from our table, the soggy leftovers at the bottom of Owen's cereal bowl and sandwich crusts and scraps of salami from his lunchbox. I feel sad for all the chickens that do not get to live the happy lives of our hens.

I have become a chicken fancier. Owen is also a chicken fancier. The others in our family, not so much. Owen and I talk about chickens constantly -- about breeds, behavior, the composition of an ideal flock --  and if this sounds pathetic, it's so much better than me pretending to listen to stories about Transformers.

Last night, the others in our family had plans, so Owen and I drove to Oakland to have dinner at Pizzaiolo, a restaurant that has recently garnered much publicity on account of the chicken coop out back. From the Los Angeles Times: "Diners will be able to wander over, Barolo in hand, to commune with the creatures that might contribute to their dinner." 

They're talking about EGGS. Not tenders. Just to be clear.

We got to sit on the patio near the chickens, with whom we communed, Barolo not in hand. Sorry for the lame picture.
There were only four chickens, and the Polish hens alluded to in the newspaper story were not in evidence, which was disappointing, since we are fans of the Polish. We thought these chickens seemed a little blue about their tight quarters, unable being able to run around quite as freely as our lucky hens. And they didn't adore me. Hmph. 

But we found their proximity delightful. We decided we prefer chickens with feathered legs and that we would someday like to acquire a naked neck to freak everyone out, and a white silkie, because they are cute. Like I say, chicken fanciers.

Now the food. What is wrong with this pizza?

I get that a full, leathery coating of cheese is inauthentic, aesthetically unappealing, and one reason Americans are fat while Italians are skinny. But there was not enough cheese on this pizza. There were several slices that contained no "hand-pulled" mozzarella whatsoever. Two more chunks would have been perfect. Even just one.
Otherwise, it was a stellar pizza and we deemed this an altogether excellent field trip.

Tomorrow, Owen and I are going to buy his birthday present: a frizzle hen. 


  1. I can taste the difference between fresh and grocery store eggs 100%. Sine I started on the fresh ones, grocery store eggs all taste either like nothing or rotten to me.

  2. I have heard that from everyone. I should really try to eat eggs.

  3. Georgia Jewel9/19/09, 4:56 PM

    I'm so excited about the frizzle! Happy Birthday!

  4. You have to give the frizzle a great name. Frizzerella? Koosh Ball? Electra? Sizzle the Frizzle? I've always wanted to name some chickens Sassafras and Sarsaparilla.

    You probably already know this, but you're supposed to wait 3 days before using a fresh egg in a recipe that requires peeling.

    Also, apparently, your recipes may be off because the fresh yolks are richer and smaller than supermarket eggs.

  5. I think it is absolutely wonderful to share an interest in chickens with your son. so fanciful. so serendipitous (sp?) and so convenient: in your own backyard!

  6. If I remember my egg science correctly, your fresh egg yolks will be firmer due to their age. Whether this also affects their color, I do not remember.

    Also, I love your blog.

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  8. Elena, whatever?!

    Sincerest Regards

  9. hahahaha it is so funny, I would like to have some hens in my house because it is so cool, I lived in a farm when I was young ,my grandma had some hens, so I love your pictures because are so cool!22dd