I can probably trace my obsession with eggs back to my childhood summers spent deep in the heart of Bavarian farm country. Breakfasts there always included a soft boiled egg, scooped up warm right out of its shell. I was continually startled to find the bright orange yolks that tasted so different from the ones back home. And it was these rich, ridiculously fresh eggs I longed for when back in Marin County, where breakfast was a pop tart, usually inhaled in the car when rushing off to school. What I didn't know then was why these eggs were so much better than our eggs back home. Now I know that it wasn't that they were German, its that they were from chickens raised in an entirely different way from our industrialized process. Chickens here are crammed into wire cages, kept under flourescent lights and stuffed full of antibiotics and feed of questionable origin. Even our "free range" or "cage free" chickens rarely see sunshine or grass as they're packed tightly in huge barns. The pastured chicken, common throughout Germany and the not-so-distant past in the United States, eats a mixture of organic, chemical-free feed and grass. They're allowed to forage, move about individually, eat yummy grubs, and lay their eggs in peace. This is why their yolk is so rich and why their flavor is so exquisite. They're what eggs are supposed to be.
Now, I know these eggs don't just exist in Europe. They can be found here, right here in Northern California. At least I hope so. I've tried the farmer's markets in the City, and though I've found organic free range eggs, they're still not quite it. I have to go to the farm, find the source itself. The egg quest has begun.
The best place to start seems to be Petaluma, a po-dunk town in the North Bay that is everything agrarian and quaint. It also used to be the "Chicken Capital of the World." The other day, Chris and I were up there, randomly, on a mission to find some cherries from a roadside stand. Our mission had proved, er, fruitless and we were headed back on a one-lane highway home. Suddenly I spotted a small, hand-painted sign stating "Eggs for Sale" in red paint. I instantly perked up and we turned around in search of the driveway.
A few passes up and down the highway and we finally discovered a gravel lane with an even smaller sign, this time with just "Eggs" written on it. A short way down the lane led us to a narrow dirt driveway, marked with a sign with just a red painted arrow on it. At last here we would find some really truly farm-fresh eggs!
We passed a few languid cows on the way in, and then we were rapidly greeted by five very vocal little dogs. Exiting the car, we spied a healthy vegetable garden with a handful of ducks waddling about. We heard the chickens before we saw them. Squawking and clucking, there they were, milling about in the coop. Utterly enchanted, I turned to Chris and breathily exclaimed, "Oh, Honey. How darling. Let's move out here and get some chickens!"
Being the imminently more sensible one of the two of us, Chris just smiled and went off in search of the proprietor of the lovely little farm so that we might purchase our eggs. I wandered about, daydreaming of my own vegetable garden and year-round sun. Rather quickly though, we soon realized no one was home. We circled the property, admiring the rusty farm equipment and an old trampoline by the fence. As the yappy dogsn hadn't ceased yapping since we'd arrived, and no one had answered our calls, we ascertained that we were alone, wandering around a stranger's property, and utterly eggless.
First the cherries and now this! Disappointed, we piled back in the car and headed back on the long road home. Chris rationalized that we could always come back another day, or try to track down their phone number. Glumly, I agreed with him, but I couldn't help feeling like a kid who'd been promised an ice cream cone only to find the ice cream parlor was closed. Sure, they'd re-open the next day, but I wanted my ice cream now!
This is what beautiful, fresh, delicious, humanely-produced eggs will do to me. Though I haven't found them yet, I feel very certain to very soon. The egg quest shall continue.