How many people does an Ostrich Egg Omelet feed?
At first, I regarded those oversized ostrich and emu eggs in the Whole Foods produce department as an oddity intended to amuse us shoppers as we bagged our loose cremini mushrooms. Surely no one *actually* spent $39.99 on an enormous exotic egg, I thought to myself.
But those eggs somehow infiltrated my psyche. And on each return visit to the store, I allowed my imagination to entertain the absurd notion of actually buying one of those eggs. ‘What would I do with it?’, I asked myself. (Omelet, I decided.) Just for kicks, I asked the produce manager how many people an Ostrich egg might, hypothetically, feed, if said ostrich egg was whipped into a hypothetical omelet. Twelve, I was told.
Twelve people from one egg? Granted it was a big egg, but twelve seemed like an exaggeration. Later that evening, a google search confirmed what I had been told: that an average ostrich egg was indeed the equivalent of about 2 dozen chicken eggs. And at that, the gauntlet had been thrown down: at the first occasion I had to feed 12 people, I was going to buy that $39.99 egg and see for myself.
The weekend of the 4th of July was my first such opportunity. Our family and friends were gathering at the beach in Rhode Island for the holiday weekend, and Alex and I would be in charge of breakfast, as usual. We snagged the last of the ostrich eggs at the Paramus, NJ, Whole Foods (um… who else is actually buying these things, too? Please identify yourselves…), wrapped it gingerly in a ShamWow, and transported it to Rhode Island. At every pothole, I envisioned nine discrete scenarios in which our precious egg would shatter before fulfilling its destiny as an omelet-for-twelve. But the thick-shelled egg survived the trip, and when Saturday morning arrived, it was time to make the most expensive omelet of our lives.
The mis en place involved sauteing 2 diced onions and 2 diced peppers, sauteing about 12 oz of sliced mushrooms with fresh oregano from our backyard, and shredding some locally-made cheddar we picked up at the farmer’s market. And then there was the matter of cracking the monster egg. Alex placed it in a large bowl, hit it three times with a chef’s knife, carefully peeled away the shell fragments and pierced a hole in the exposed membrane. The egg contents were somewhat surprising: rather than a discrete yolk and white, we encountered a creamy-yellow emulsion whose smooth texture was interrupted only by a disturbingly large chalize (the gloppy clear part of an egg that holds the yolk in place). Oh, well. Good thing we weren’t planning on separating it for an egg white omelet.
Our egg made 3 jumbo and 1 large omelets (pictured above), which, when served to twelve moderate eaters accompanied by a pile of toast and an assortment of fresh berries, was indeed enough to provide a satisfying breakfast for all. (Myth confirmed.) The texture of the egg was slightly airier than the typical chicken-egg omelet; in fact, its appearance was pockmarked with little air bubbles that lent it a crepe-like appearance. The flavor was exactly the same as a regular chicken egg, as far as our unrefined egg palates were concerned. And as some additional research would reveal, the nutritional profile as ostrich egg is almost identical to that of a chicken egg. Actually, to ~20-24 chicken eggs.
For those of you concerned about eating eggs for reasons of cholesterol, I will offer the following: for most healthy people without a family history of high cholesterol, dietary cholesterol in moderate amounts isn’t going to have much of an impact on your blood cholesterol levels. That’s because the body will adjust the amount of cholesterol it produces downward in response to a higher level of dietary cholesterol. In fact, for most people, the amount of saturated fat in the diet will have a much greater impact of blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol will, so I might be more concerned about an egg-white omelet stuffed with cheese and ham than I would an equivalent whole-egg omelet stuffed with just vegetables. (Of course, high-cholesterol foods are usually also high in saturated fat, so it can be hard to have one without the other.) One large egg has ~210mg of cholesterol, which means that a 2-egg omelet will already exceed the daily recommended limit for cholesterol intake, which is 300mg. Does that mean its unhealthy to ever have a 2 egg omelet in one sitting? Not at all; in fact, I personally rely on eggs as an important source of inexpensive, high-quality protein in my diet, and the humble frittata happens to feature prominently in my weekday dinner playlist. I’d recommend viewing the limit in a weekly perspective: 300mg/day translates into a guideline of 2,100mg/week; so as long as the daily average based on your weekly intake generally falls in line, you should be fine. Egg yolks, shellfish (but not scallops), liver and red meat/poultry are the foods with the highest cholesterol content, and only animal-based foods contain cholesterol. (You can click here for a list of the cholesterol content of common foods.) Another strategy to help reduce the amount of dietary cholesterol you absorb is to make sure you’re eating a high-fiber diet that contains 6-10g of soluble fiber per day; the soluble fiber “traps” some cholesterol in your gut and escorts it out of the body, preventing you from absorbing it. (This is why foods rich in soluble fiber, like oatmeal, oat bran and Cheerios, all claim to lower cholesterol.) Good food sources of soluble fiber include oats/oat bran, barley, beans/peas, ground flaxseeds, nuts, apples and carrots, and soluble fiber content is listed on many nutrition facts labels as a component of total dietary fiber.
The exception is for the <1% of the population that has familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which is a hereditary condition in which the body’s cells are less able to remove LDL particles from the bloodstream to use their contents (fat and cholesterol) for various essential cell functions. (Don’t forget: cholesterol is a precursor for lots of beneficial substances in our body, including various hormones and Vitamin D, which is why we manufacture it to begin with.) Because the cells of the liver cannot take up the LDL particles as efficiently, the negative feedback mechanism that suppresses endogenous cholesterol production in the liver in response to dietary cholesterol is less effective. In other words, the liver doesn’t “know” how much cholesterol you’ve eaten because it isn’t able to take up the circulating cholesterol from your blood very efficiently. So it just keeps on producing cholesterol to meet what it thinks the body’s needs are, no matter how much you’ve already eaten. People who have this condition are likely to experience a build-up of cholesterol-containing LDL in the bloodstream, placing them at high risk for early cardiovascular disease. In this case, eating egg (yolks) and other high-cholesterol foods even in very modest amounts *will* have an impact on blood cholesterol levels, and thus it would be prudent to lay off (no pun intended) the omelets–ostrich or otherwise– altogether.Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.