Thousand Year Old Eggs…

The origin of this Chinese delicacy, also known as century eggs, is said to go back six centuries to the Ming Dynasty, when, according to legend, a man in the Hunan province found some two-month-old duck eggs in some slaked lime that was being used as mortar in the building of his new home. Somewhat curious, the man decided to taste them, and liked what he tasted—especially with the addition of some salt. Today, thousand-year-old eggs are prepared by wrapping them in clay mixed with quicklime, wood ash, and salt, and leaving them for several months. At the end of the process, the white is transformed into a dark brown, translucent, virtually tasteless jelly, while the yolk becomes dark green or grey in color, with a creamy texture and a smell akin to sulphur or ammonia. This latter characteristic led to the common misconception that thousand-year-old eggs are prepared by being immersed in urine, and indeed the Thais call them khai yiow ma—“horse-piss eggs.”

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