I came across this monstrosity of an egg at Tan A, my local Vietnamese grocery store. For those who aren't familiar with eggs that look like they fell out of a t-rex’s ass, I introduce the emu egg.
It was over this dino-tastic egg that I finally made friends with one of the Vietnamese grocers. I’ll admit that I’m using the word “friends” liberally, but it was a small victory nonetheless.
You see, for years I’ve been a regular at the Vietnamese businesses that occupy the shopping center at Horsepen and Broad street. I get my weekly pho from Pho So 1, my banh mi at Catina, and my Asian groceries at the previously mentioned Tan A.
But no matter how many hard-earned dollars I spent in these establishments, I got the same treatment – total indifference. There was never a, “nice to see you again” or “do you want your regular #17 with fried spring rolls.” And no amount of smiling or futile attempts at small talk has ever changed that.
Once I asked my regular waitress what salted lemonade was. She looked at me with the type of annoyance reserved for Americans asking stupid questions and replied, “It’s lemonade. It’s salty. You no like!” And that’s pretty much how it went, until I bought the emu egg.
The breakthrough happened a few months ago during an ordinary grocery trip to Tan A. I was curious about some mysterious kaki colored eggs and worked up the courage to ask the cashier about them, knowing there was a 95% chance he wouldn’t even look up from his register to respond.
To my utter surprise, not only did he look up, and not only did he answer my question (they were chukar eggs!), he actually engaged in further conversation! I was trying to play it cool, but I’m sure some of my shock seeped into my always-transparent expression. I felt I was finally deemed worthy, like I was an insider or something.
He told me that they also had local emu eggs for sale, and then proceeded to walk me over to where they were neatly stacked. Of course I snatched one up for $15 and decided I’d figure out what to do with it later.
I haven’t had any real conversations with my Vietnamese cashier friend since then, but he does acknowledge my existence now. We always say hi to each other, and he seems eager to help if I’m looking for something. If this story had a moral it would be that no matter how different someone is from you, there is always something that you can connect with. In my case it was a giant blue emu egg.
As for the egg, it sat on my kitchen table for an inordinate amount of time for two reasons: it was so damn pretty and its size intimidated me. Finally my fiancé threatened to throw it out, so it was time.
I decided to make a Japanese rolled omelet (tamagoyaki), since it would preserve the natural emu-y flavor. I separated the whites from the enormous 11oz yolk and whisked in some sugar, soy, mirin, and diced onion. I cooked thin layers of yolk and white then stacked them all together and rolled.
The Verdict: At first both the fiancé and I loved the supper eggy, slightly custardy omelet. But we very quickly got over it. After about a slice and a half each we were done (I mean done done, like forever). The omelet seemed to just sit at the bottom of my stomach, and a heavy egg flavor stuck with me all day. I'll probably never buy another emu egg, but if I'm ever on a reality cooking show and get emu egg in my mystery basket, I'll know to make quiche from it to balance out it's flavor with other ingredients.
Plate from Shady Grove Pottery