If you’ll indulge me one more post about eggs, I promise I’ll be brief.
As noted in previous posts, our kids have celiac disease and a number of other food allergies, and this was an important reason we originally decided to move to the country and take more control of our food supply. It’s also made us highly sensitive to the special food requirements that others may have, and interested in helping them obtain what they need.
I never would’ve imagined it, but there are some people who are allergic to chicken eggs (even those raised on pasture in the most wholesome of conditions), but have no problem with duck eggs. Actually, as I think more about it, I shouldn’t be surprised that there are people in this situation: our children cannot drink cow’s milk, no matter how it’s cultured, but they do just fine with cheese and yogurt and other cultured products made from raw goat’s milk.
Anyway, if you think goat milk is hard to find…just try tracking down duck eggs. Even the local Meijer supermarket is now fairly well stocked with goat milk; it’s expensive, but they have it. But I’ll bet ten-to-one that none of my American readers has a grocery store nearby that stocks duck eggs. Maybe if you live in the Chinatown of a large city. But otherwise? Forget it.
We love duck eggs; they have a higher fat content than chicken eggs, and have a wonderfully rich flavor. We’ve enjoyed raising Cayuga, Magpie, and Khaki Campbell ducks, which are all excellent laying breeds. But here’s the funny thing: once you put the word out in online directories that you have duck eggs…the folks with allergies to chicken eggs will find you. Fast. So will the Asians who want duck eggs for pickling and brining. When we lived in Illinois, we developed a nice little business supplying duck eggs to restaurants, Filipinos, and those with allergies in the Chicago area.
And then we moved to Michigan, and were no longer able to get to Chicago regularly. We cut the flock back quite a bit…but some of our old customers kept calling my cell phone and emailing me. Do you have any duck eggs? I really miss being able to eat eggs. You have no idea how integral eggs are to a normal diet until you can’t eat any. Kind of like gluten is for our kids. If rice was as rare as duck eggs, I’d be burning up the phone lines trying to ensure a steady supply.
So…we bought a bunch of Cayuga ducklings last spring. Mrs Yeoman Farmer much prefers their eggs to those laid by Khaki Campbells (personally, I can’t tell the difference…and neither can most people), so she can enjoy any that go unsold or that we can’t deliver. Cayuga eggs are especially fun because they have a dark green (sometimes almost black) tint to the shell — you can literally make Green Eggs and Ham. They started laying three or four eggs a day recently, and by early this week I’d managed to accumulate two dozen. Yesterday I needed to travel to Chicago on business, so shot an email off to one of my old customers who works in the heart of the Loop.
He didn’t get the email until the day before I was set to leave, but immediately replied. YES, absolutely he was interested. He was off site in meetings until 1:45; could I come by his building after that?
No problem. I took the South Shore Line train to Chicago, laptop slung over one shoulder and my other hand grasping a shopping bag with two dozen very special green eggs. Then I took them on the CTA Red Line and into my meeting on the Near North Side. Then to Holy Name Cathedral for the 12:10 Mass, and to Starbucks as I grabbed a sandwich and coffee and checked email. Back onto the CTA State Street Subway and into the heart of the Loop, down a side street, into the lobby of a major bank…and into the hands of one very grateful man who hadn’t enjoyed an egg for nearly a year.
We exchanged warm words for a few minutes, and then he retreated to the elevator and I headed for Millennium Station. Yes, he paid me a very fair price for the very special eggs I’d brought. But there really isn’t any amount of money that can produce the joy that of knowing I’ve supplied something he’s waited so eagerly for and cannot find anywhere else.