Trompe-l'oeuf is not a real phrase. But it popped into my head as I happily cracked eggs into the pan that I had gotten from friends who have chickens. I looked into what the rules were for my city; and though I can technically have five chickens, Jake objected. He's right: I can't take care of plants. I should probably not have chickens! So, for now, I am grateful to generous, chicken-wrangling friends.
Trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye) is a technique in art that involves realistic imagery to create an optical illusion that the painted objects exist in three dimensions. Think Pozzo's painting in Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio in Rome. L'oeuf means 'egg'. Trompe-l'oeuf = egg trickery. That's what I was pondering while cooking breakfast this past weekend.
Here are some questions: Can I really discern the taste difference of an über-fresh egg from pastured-raised, antibiotic-free, and pesticide-free layers? I think I can.
Are the whites more taut? I think so.
Are the yolks more vibrant from the insects and worms that the chickens have in their diets? Yes. Though I hear that that nuclear orange hue will fade as the summer progresses and they graze on different things.
Is my EGG-citement about these beauties justified? I think it is. Or is it a trick of the eye...that affects my tastebuds?!?
I suspect that mindset of the the eater definitely affects how a food or drink tastes. Think about how a crisp white wine tastes better if you're sipping it with your toes in the sand on a beach in the Mediterranean.
There is a gelateria in Rome whose owner once boasted that he had met the cows that gave him milk and the chickens that gave him eggs. Best gelato. Ever. Is that in my head? Maybe. But it was really, really good gelato.
Whether I'm making omelettes, poaching them, scrambling them, or hard-boiling them, I have to say that I am always excited when I get fresh eggs from friends and family. And I gladly pay more when I know that the chickens have a better quality of life and that my money is going directly to the farmer.
A few year ago, when my best friend and I co-taught a class at the International School of Monterey, we cracked three eggs and asked the kids if they could discern which one was farm fresh, which one was organic, and which one was conventional. Can you tell?
And, more importantly, do you think it's a trompe-l'oeuf? Or can you really tell the difference as you eat them?