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Taste This: Pickled Eggs

By Mike Breen · June 29th, 2011 · Lost in the Supermarket
During the past couple of years, you’ve been able to follow a ribbon of pink through the supermarket aisles. Part of a campaign to help breast cancer research and awareness, you can find a wide range of products emblazoned in pink throughout your corner grocery.

While everything from Oreos to Special K features the pink lady-cancer tie-in, one no-brainer product not participating is Fischer’s Pickled Eggs. They’re pink. And they’re eggs. The only thing that would make them even more of a perfect, ladylike fit would be if they had actual breasts!

Pickled eggs have long been on my “Must-Try Weird Food Misfits!” list I keep for this column. So consider this month’s installment an early Breast Cancer Awareness Month heads up. It’s in October — save your pennies and donate to one of the many helpful groups, like Breast Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati (www.bcacincy.org).

I usually do my taste-test prior to researching or reading ingredient labels; it’s usually hard enough to swallow some of the things I have in the name of journalism. But I’ve been nursing a stomachache lately, so to procrastinate and hopefully discover something encouraging (like “Pickled eggs actually taste like Hostess Ding Dongs”), I decided to read up on these somehow-delicacies first.

Studying the jar of Fischer’s eggs was surprisingly soothing.

There are the lovely pastel pink visuals (think Easter at Paris Hilton’s crib) and the innocuous ingredients list (nothing over three syllables — basically water, salt, vinegar, “spices” and hard-boiled eggs). Then I made the mistake of looking at the “Best if used by” date. Gulp. Well, April 2011 was only three months ago.

Though prominent in U.S. dive bars, pickled eggs are especially popular in the U.K., unsurprisingly — the chance some sketchy food item has British origins is on par with the chance that the dateline on all of those “Weird News Stories” websites is “Florida.”

Pickled eggs are marinated for weeks or months (or, in the case of my jar, I’m thinking decades) to absorb the vinegar and spice. Drenched in a coating of salt and hard-boiled are probably my favorite ways to eat eggs, and I’m a big pickle fan, so my pre-tasting fear was lower than when I tried, say, pickled pig’s feet.

I’m sure it’s frowned upon in aficionado circles, but I had to use a fork and knife; I just had a sneaking suspicion the juices were the type to linger a couple weeks if you use your fingers. I expected to be knocked back by a gust of vinegar odor, but the smell was light, comparable to a jar of dill pickle slices.

Cutting it in half, the pink color (the only real chemically additive) extended to just before the yolk, which somewhat surprisingly retained its yellow luster. The eggs were heavier than expected, probably just part of the early petrifaction process.

While I was expecting this one to fall into the “Not that bad!” category (which is like five stars here), I was pretty disappointed that the eggs turned out to be fairly nasty. Any “egg” flavor is replaced with a strong, blunt blast of pickle. It’s probably something you have to get used to. My love for pickles is based on the flavor and texture; these have a similar flavor, but the texture is so rubbery they could’ve been made by Michelin. On the plus side, they could probably double as back-up racketballs.

While my first pickled egg experience instantly triggered my gag reflex, I could see getting used to them. Well, in the same way I understand people get used to devouring bags of White Castle sliders when they’re really drunk. Given their popularity in pubs, a stiff pint or five undoubtedly has something to do with pickled eggs’ weird cult popularity, too.

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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