Really, in the end, it was because of the picture. A snapshot of a couple of waddly white duck bottoms sticking out of tall green weeds, where the ducks in question foraged, gilded with a bit of sunshine and looking so busy, so content, just so…right. I veered through the carnival midway throngs at the farmer’s market, to get a closer look at the picture stuck to the edge of the vendor’s display. I looked down at the table, and there were stacked cartons of chicken eggs, but also, duck eggs.
I’d been curious about duck eggs for what seems like a very long time. The occasional reference in a cookbook or a picture on a food blog would renew my interest and again I would make a mental note to get some, the very next time I had a chance. I knew that they are bigger than chicken eggs, have a higher fat content, and are often used in baking. I imagined how rich they must taste, thought that maybe they would be the best eggs ever laid. Hardly an obsession, not even an idée fixe, just an itchy little seed of curiosity stowed away in the back of my mind. Intermittently, I remembered to scan the egg case at the co-op, but no duck eggs presented themselves. Just as intermittently, I mentioned the duck egg itch to Michael, who has perfected the art of noncommittal, diplomatic responses to these sorts of things.
But I guess it was also the spring sunshine that did it. Because it turns out that unlike chickens, ducks only lay eggs in the spring. And now, there they were! The vendor caught my eye and smiled. “Can I help you?” she asked. I nearly threw caution to the wind and bought an entire dozen, but they were eight dollars a carton, after all. So I tucked a half dozen into my bag, nearly skipping with glee as I re-entered the flow of shoppers and made my way to the kombucha vendor.
“Guess what I got?” I asked later, unloading my shopping bag over at Michael’s place. “I’ll give you a hint. DUCK EGGS!” I did a little happy dance. “I thought you could scramble them.”
And, kind man, he duly scrambled them for breakfast the very next morning. They were a little larger than our usual chicken eggs, but not freakishly so. The shells were notably stronger, however. The duck eggs scrambled up into big, firm curds. They smelled distinctly different, too…they were eggs, but more so.
And the taste…what of the taste? The otherness of these eggs was most apparent in the first few bites. The dense texture made for an odd mouth feel at first, and the flavor could only be described as wild—a little gamy edge superimposed over the construct of egg flavor as I knew it. Not bad, not the best eggs ever laid, just different.
By the time we polished off our breakfast, I was pretty much used to them. I took the remaining two eggs home and ate them for breakfast over the next few days.
Will I seek out another carton of duck eggs? Probably not for breakfast, but I’d like to put them to the test in baking someday.
It is strange for me, this muted reaction to a food I’d been excited to try. I suspect that there is a lesson here somewhere, something about one’s reach exceeding their grasp, or the grass being greener, or the road less travelled. Or perhaps the duck eggs are a Rorschach test, saying more about the eater than the egg. All I can say with certainty is that there will surely be another MacGuffin to drive the story forward, another object of desire sparkling just out of sight, over that next hill.