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How People Eat Eggs Around the World

Ever looked at a raw egg yolk and thought, "How on Earth did people realize they could eat these things?"
11/20/2014 11:34am ET | Updated January 20, 2015
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Ever looked at a raw egg yolk and thought, "How on Earth did people realize they could eat these things?"

Well, eggs have been human dietary staples since prehistory. The most common egg we eat today, the chicken egg, is thought to have come from birds our ancestors domesticated from wild jungle fowl native to Southeast Asia and India before 7500 B.C.E. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics portray servants carrying ostrich eggs as offerings, and by ancient Roman times, egg dishes were a common first course for meals.

So why have eggs been such a ubiquitous food for humans throughout history? Well for one, they're nutritious. Eggs contain one of the highest dietary values for protein, which helps humans build new cells and maintain healthy tissues. One egg has just 75 calories but contains 7 grams of protein, making it one of the richest sources of the essential nutrient around.

Another reason is that eggs act as a convenient binding and thickening agent for a variety of foods. Ancient peoples put a little egg into their ground wheat and voila, breads and cakes were born (Bonus: we get to put amazing spreads on the toast we make from that bread).

Finally, eggs worked as a sustainable food farming practice for people who had very little nutritious food available. Think about it: kill a chicken and you eat for a day; keep chickens, eat the eggs, and you eat indefinitely.

Ancient Romans loved eggs so much, they even came to believe that eggshells had magical properties. They often crushed the shell after eating an egg on their plates to ward off evil spirits.

These days, eggs have lost a little of their magic in America and are mostly a humdrum breakfast foundation. But around the world, people do fascinating things with eggs, from carefully fermenting them for rare delicacies to frying them up as street snacks. We've compiled a list of the most interesting ways that people around the world enjoy their eggs. Read on and think outside the McMuffin!

Mexico: Huevos Rancheros
The name literally means “rancher’s eggs,” but you don’t have to be a farmhand to love fried eggs and tomato-chile sauce atop corn tortillas with a side of rice and beans. Photo Credit: thinkstockHow People Eat Eggs Around The World
Japan: Onsen Tamago
This Japanese delicacy is prepared by slow-cooking an egg on a low temperature in spring water until the yolk takes on a custard-like quality. Once the shell is removed, the egg is served in a small cup of broth and soy sauce. Photo Credit: thinkstock
Phillipines: Balut
This dish is not for the faint of heart. Conventionally sold as a street food in the Philippines, balut (or balot) is a developing duck embryo that’s boiled alive and eaten straight out of the shell. They’re also sometimes cooked adobo-style-- vinegar, soy sauce, and bay leaves--or cooked into pastries. Photo Credit: © Flickr / Marshall AstorHow People Eat Eggs Around The World
Tunisia: Brik
This samosa-like food envelops a whole egg in a pastry triangle with onion, tuna, harissa, and parsley. Then the whole thing is deep-fried and sometimes garnished with capers and cheese. Photo Credit: thinkstock
United Kingdom: Scotch Egg
Scotch eggs probably originated in London, despite their name, but no matter where they came from, hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, breaded, and deep-fried are an ingenious invention. Photo Credit: thinkstockHow People Eat Eggs Around The World


-Emily Alford, The Daily Meal