When I saw pans of exquisitely decapitated egg shells protecting their reloaded yolks from direct contact with the simmering water I immediately reached two conclusions:
First, the great Alain Passard was in the house, opening his menu at the Portugal International Gourmet Festival with his signature chaud-froid d’oeuf (“hot-cold egg”), a gently poached yolk topped with a spoonful of crème fraîche and a few drops of maple syrup.
Second, here was a golden opportunity to test an eggsistential hypothesis.
Greeting Passard in the kitchen of the Vila Joya, the Algarve boutique resort hotel that annually hosts the festival, I asked the three-Michelin-starred chef of L’Arpège in Paris to imagine a world in which a single egg sold not for 10 cents but for 10 euros. Wouldn’t the humble but rich chicken egg then join truffles, caviar and foie gras amongst our most prized food luxuries?
“I agree with you,” said Passard. “The egg is so valuable in so many ways. It is the trésor of patisserie. If the egg didn’t exist, why that’s unthinkable!”
“They’re the best,” he said. “More unctuous. More taste.”
And, at 10 cents apiece, more for your money.