Project Gastronome, Day 5: Century Eggs

4/08/2011

UPDATE: If you are reading my blog because of the story on CNN, welcome!  I invite you to read this post, too, as it will give a little more explanation about my trying the century eggs.

I'm starting to think that I should maybe have called this series Project Asian Grocery Store, because this is my third item that I picked up at the Far East Supermarket (with two more coming next week).  I can't help it!  There was such an exotic variety of strange and new foods there!  I went in looking for two specific things (both of which I'll be eating next week), and walked out with an armload of others.  I'm a textbook example of an impulse buyer.

Actually, today's item was exactly that - an impulse buy.  I was scanning the shelves after picking some other things, and when I saw century eggs, I knew that I had to try them for Project Gastronome.  At the time, my line of thinking went something like, "No way!  That will make such a great blog entry!"  What didn't enter my head at the time is that I would actually have to eat them.  My first clue to what this experience was going to be like should have been the cashier's reaction, an incredulous "Do you like these?"

Perhaps I should back up for a second and tell you some more about tonight's food.  From Wikipedia:
Century egg, also known as preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, thousand-year-old egg, and millennium egg (or Pidan in Mandarin), is a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing. Through the process, the yolk becomes a dark green to grey colour, with a creamy consistency and an odor of sulphur and ammonia, while the white becomes a dark brown, transparent jelly with little flavor.
Here's a picture...

There are some culinary discoveries that make perfect sense to me.  Imagine the first caveman who held meat over a fire and realized that it was delicious!  Or think of the first person who said, "These plants smell good.  I'm going to try grinding them up and putting them on my food."  These are innovations that make sense!  The same can not be said of a person who woke up one day and thought, "I've got more eggs than I can use right now, so I'm going to encase some of them in clay and bury them for a few months."  As the start date for this project grew nearer, this was the single item that I most dreaded eating.  Just look at that picture - the egg white is brown and translucent!

I have read that the best way to approach eating century eggs is to think of it as a big piece of cheese.  You wouldn't just pick up a block of cheddar and take a huge bite out of it, you'd slice it or shred it and eat it with something.  Still, I wanted to experience this thing.  I decided to go at it both ways, by taking a bite out of one, and by slicing one and having it with crackers.

Peeling it only added to the dread.  There is a strong ammonia smell, much like animal urine.  Strangely, it still felt exactly like an ordinary hard boiled egg.  I took a bite, and...

As it turns out, my initial dread was well founded.  Put simply, this was THE STUPIDEST MOTHERFUCKING THING I HAVE EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH, and that includes a night of ill-advised experimentation in college.  Again to my surprise, the texture was exactly like that of a hard boiled egg, but the taste...  You know what?  Just watch the video.
It tasted like a hard boiled egg that had been boiled in pee.  Amazingly, there was practically no aftertaste once I had it out of my mouth, which was the one positive thing about this experience.

That's it for the foods this week, folks.  I'm going to cleanse my palate over the weekend and start again on Monday, except the theme will no longer be Animal, it will be Vegetable.  Just because I'm not eating anything this weekend, though, is no reason for you to stop checking - tomorrow I will be posting details of how YOU can take part in a very special Look What Danny Made! live event!

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Meranda watches the videos w/ me every night.

Every night it's the same comment, "HE'S SO CUTE!!"

Sorry, Danny, but she's talking about Blake!

Roy B.

Anonymous said...

"and that includes a night of ill-advised experimentation in college"

Quite possibly the best line I've ever read in a blog!! AWESOME!!

You'll be glad to know I didn't let Meranda read that, not the line immediately preceding it. I just laughed hysterically and refused to tell her why!

Good Stuff, Danny!!

Roy B (again)

Danny said...

As to the first point, as beautiful as Meranda is, I think it's still best that her comments are directed to Blake! Having him in these has ended up being one of the best parts. Otherwise it would just be silent footage of me eating instead of having running commentary.

As to the second point, thanks for keeping the dirty details of my past away from her! Thanks, too, for all the great feedback this week!

Laurie said...

OMG, Danny, thank you so much for doing this! I have laughed out loud every single day - thank you! Its been one of those weeks, and my best escape has been Project Gastronome!

Poor little Blake in this one, though, looks SO worried when you go for the bucket...then so relieved to see you are ok!

Can't wait for next week!

Terri said...

Love the magnifying glass!!!!! And those eggs look like some of the ones that died halfway through incubation during our chick embryology unit. But I didn't make you eat them. The smell was horrific, too. I couldn't eat eggs for about 3 months after teaching that unit every year.

Danny said...

Laurie - it makes me feel great to know that I helped you through the week. That's the best compliment you could have given me! It didn't occur to me until I watched this later that he asked me like a half dozen times if I had thrown up, and I never answered him.

Terri - Hoo boy, I'd forgotten about those, but now that I'm thinking of them, I'll probably be off of eggs for a while, too.

Will Meekin said...

well, century eggs notwithstanding, at least you got through the animal segment without having to knuckle down balut, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balut_(egg). gag.

great moments here:
3. the eggs are so bad you're sweating,
2. at one point your voice cracks Bobby Brady-like,
1. Blake looks scared when you go for the bucket.

keep up the good work,
wm.

Ali said...

will said EXACTLY what i was going to say! these are so bad you sweat and your voice cracks! but truly, "THE STUPIDEST MOTHERFUCKING THING I HAVE EVER PUT IN MY MOUTH" will make me laugh for weeks to come.

Ali said...

also, i think the fact that these eggs are so bad that they make babies cry is quite telling as well...

brandy said...

Danny this was so funny I showed my husband...I loved it. Saturday I plan to watch everyone of your videos! So very very very funny. Plus I love the running commentary from Blake.

Danny said...

Thanks, Brandy! Blake was definitely the star of the show.

Anonymous said...

I'm an American living in New York. Using western style to eat an eastern food is a bad idea. But when you order the century eggs in a real Chinese restaurant,they will mix it with soy sauce and some Chinese sauce and then you will know how delicious it is. : )

Danny said...

Thanks for your comment, friend! I have to admit that I ate the eggs in the way that I did in order to maximize the impact of the presentation. I wanted it to be interesting, but also to be funny. I'm trying to think of another ingredient that I could compare it to, but I can see how if you used just a little bit of this in a dish, to give it some pungency, how it could be a different experience. I make it up to NYC every couple of years - any recommendations for a good place to try it?

Anonymous said...

You wanted it to be interesting and funny. However, it just turned out to be ignorant.

I've never seen/known anyone would eat century egg in your way. Put simply, this was THE STUPIDEST MOTHERFUCKING WAY TO EAT CENTURY EGG I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.

Anonymous said...

You wanted it to be interesting and funny. However, it just turned out to be ignorant.

I've never seen/known anyone would eat century egg in your way. Put simply, this was THE STUPIDEST MOTHERFUCKING WAY TO EAT CENTURY EGG I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.

Anonymous said...

You wanted it to be interesting and funny. However, it just turned out to be ignorant.

I've never seen/known anyone would eat century egg in your way. Put simply, this was THE STUPIDEST MOTHERFUCKING WAY TO EAT CENTURY EGG I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.

Danny said...

I see what you did there. Very clever.

I'll be sure to give your opinion all of the weight and consideration that I would give to anybody else who can't figure out that you don't have to post the same comment three times in a row.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Your article apparently was all over the place that drew me here. I'm an Asian and have lived in the US (including Texas) for over 15 years. Your presentation is overly exaggerating in my view. Besides, not "properly" trying new food will only cause bad impression and disaster. For example, (some types of) brie is as stinky as hell, but with certain fruit, the combination is a treat to taste buds. It wouldn't be fair to go completely against some food without tasting it with delicate food preparation by a chef, would it?

Strongly suggest giving it another try by having a decent Chinese restaurant for you. Like one of the comments states, using a Western method to eat Eastern food is a bad idea to begin with.

Danny said...

If you notice in the video, I actually take a moment to point out that I'm aware I'm not eating the eggs in the "proper" fashion. It turns out that much of comedy hinges on exaggeration. For instance, were you aware that Mel Brooks was not actually a Thousand Year Old Man, and that Abbott & Costello never actually managed a baseball team?

Anonymous said...

Please don't take it so personally and defensively. It's only suggested to give food from different cultures a fair trial - instead of purly making fun. And the mention of the English translation is only to point out the mistake majority of people make. Nothing more.

Danny said...

Point taken. What are your favorite dishes that include century eggs?

Anonymous said...

The ginger should be smashed and put on the cut-into- pieces eggs and at last sprinkles some chinese vinger on them, and that tastes delicious.

Tandy said...

You probably wanna give your apologize to China, too. It's not originally from Taiwan. Lots of Chinese are also pissed off! Seriously. Now, it's gone political. Good luck buddy.

Danny said...

Nope, I'm done apologizing. I never mentioned China OR Taiwan in this blog entry, aside from a blockquote that I pulled from Wikipedia. I've clarified my intentions, extended an olive branch to the world, and I'm done with it. People can either read what I've written and decide to make their peace with it, or they can decide to get their panties in a wad over a goddamn spoiled egg.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the author should apologize to China or Taiwan (where I am from). It is his personal opinion and experience. There's nothing wrong with it. We all have a fair share of not giving certain food justice. (what was "wrong" was CNN took it out of the context and proportion - and that's my personal opinion).

As to Mr. Danny's question regarding my favorite dish(es) with the egg, I personally like it with tofu drizzled with soy paste, and sprinkled with chopped green onion. Also like it mixed with ground pork with rice porridge.

Good luck and enjoy the food!!

Danny said...

Thanks, friend.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Taiwanese and I don't eat century eggs myself. My family eat century egg very often (it's a very common dish both in TW and CN), but I've never tried it before. Really admire your courage to taste that, although it was not tried in a proper way. And if you ever mentioned the differerence between Taiwan and China, I'll say you're rihgt about that too. Taiwan and China are totally different countries. Thums up!

Nate said...

So much for trying new things...huh Danny! All of China is mad...you probably want some new home security...especially after the "Devil made me eggs comment". I'm sure some Chineese ex-pat is plotting your demise. I also love the "horrible choices" in the egg's personality comment! Way to be adventerous!

Not A "Anonymous" said...

Every Chinese eats century eggs, except for those who think they are not Chinese or not residents in Taiwan Province.
I'm a Chinese born in Taiwan Province, Republic of China.
There always are Japanese-Fucked-Resident-in-Taiwans who think Taiwan is a country. However, they took passports and IDs with the cover printed "Republic of China" not "Republic of Taiwan". The truth is, China had been split into 2 regions since 1949, and so called "Taiwan" never been a country by now. The government in Taiwan still call herself "Repulic of China" not "Republic of Taiwan". Enjoy your century eggs With Some Sauce. (eg. soysauce) then that would not be disgusting. There only are few people eat that without any sauce.

A Chinese guy who is not An "Anonymous" from Japan said...

Oh, don't be afraid about what you said of eggs. We Chinese all could understand the feeling of first taste. Chinese are mad just because of CNN, not you. Enjoy your thousand years eggs.

Anonymous said...

Hey Danny, I recommend you try "Stinky Tofu (Smelly Tofu)" which is from China as well. Compared with stinky tofu's smell, a century egg smells like heaven. But don't get me wrong, it tastes wonderful, it's really ironic that something smells so bad can be very delicious when you put it in mouth. Although I doubt if you can find it in the US. Oh, I'm not talking about a fried tofu since it is called smelly tofu too. Good luck.

Danny said...

I don't know, man... A few different people have warned me away from that one. Do you eat it in dishes that you would use normal tofu in, or is sort of its own thing?

Dan on the Run said...

HEY WORLD CALM THE FUCK DOWN!!

I have know Danny for a long time, and have known him to be open minded and excited to experience other cultures rather than his native one.

I HAVE NEVER HEARD HIM ONCE CALL SOMEONE IGNORANT OR AN ASSHOLE FOR NOT LIKING PEANUT BUTTER, WIDELY REGARDED AS AWESOME IN THE STATES.

EAT A BAG OF DICKS CNN, IT APPARENTLY WOULDN'T BE THE WEIRDEST THING YOU EVER ATE.

Danny said...

I've said it before, and I just said it over on Facebook, but everybody should have a friend like you, Dan. (For real, though, people who don't like peanut butter ARE assholes.)

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