Germany's love affair with the egg

Germany's love affair with the egg

Beyond Easter eggs

Even though we all know bunnies don't lay eggs, pictures like this one still turn up at this time every year. In Germany, however, it seems that eggs' special status extends well beyond the Easter holiday. From breakfast to decor, Germans have a special relationship with eggs. Here's more.

Germany's love affair with the egg

The breakfast egg

Eggs are eaten all over the world for breakfast - scrambled, poached, boiled, or fried. In Germany, the soft-boiled egg is a requirement at every big Sunday breakfast. Typically, it is not considered a main dish and not eaten with an omnipresent bread roll, but stands alone in a dish of its own, like a work of art adorned only with a dash of salt. Usually the yolk - the "Eigelb" - is left runny.

Germany's love affair with the egg

The egg cup

Since eggs are neither flat nor perfectly round, they would wobble all over a plate. For this reason, the revered breakfast staple is granted a specially designed bowl of its own. In the land of design and engineering, this is a wide-open invitation for creativity. Egg cups can be found in unlimited variety. They usually include their own specially sized spoon and personal miniature salt shaker.

Germany's love affair with the egg

The egg cracker

A throne for the breakfast egg, a perfectly sized spoon and a tiny salt shaker are not enough. In Germany, you also have a highly specialized egg opening device known as an "Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher" (egg shell breaking point causer). By dropping the ball attached to the post, pressure is applied evenly in a ring around the top of the egg. The crown can then be cleanly removed.

Germany's love affair with the egg

A growing love

Germans are consuming more and more eggs. The industry organization Marktinfo Eier & Geflügel estimated that each person in Germany ate 235 eggs in 2016, up from 233 in 2015 and 231 in 2014. While many of those eggs are laid in Germany, imports are growing, particularly from Poland and the Netherlands. Over Easter, egg consumption rises only slightly. They're a year-round passion.

Germany's love affair with the egg

Status versus quantity

Considering the practically holy status of the German breakfast egg, one might think that the Germans are leagues ahead of the pack when it comes to total consumption. Each American, however, ate around 267 eggs last year, according to the American Egg Board - but there, scrambling up multiple eggs is more popular than a single pedastaled treasure. In the UK per capita consumption came in at 192.

Germany's love affair with the egg

Brown or white

Chicken eggs generally come in two colors, depending on the species. While white eggs were most common in Germany in the 70s and 80s, more egg eaters started buying brown eggs when the organic food trend began. They are considered to be healthier and more natural. In fact there is no difference between the two kinds - except for a bit of pigment. White eggs, however, are easier to dye for Easter.

Germany's love affair with the egg

Rainbow eggs all year round

Newcomers to Germany may be shocked to discover packs of dyed eggs in the supermarkets - in October. (Not refrigerated, by the way.) It's not an oversight. Last year, 475 million eggs were sold. Only a quarter of those were purchased during the first quarter, reported the "Süddeutsche Zeitung." But no matter when they're bought, does anyone anywhere in the world actually eat the dyed ones?

Germany's love affair with the egg

A slice here and there

Sometimes eggs turn up where you least expect them. If you order a sandwich in a bakery - one of those famous German bread rolls with ham or cheese, for example - a slice of egg will be thrown in for good measure. (And we truly mean one single slice.) The white and yellow add to the rainbow of condiments: You'll usually also find tomato, cucumber (one slice each) and lettuce (one leaf) inside.

Germany's love affair with the egg

The egg tree

Bunnies don't lay eggs; they grow on trees. It's a centuries-old German Easter tradition to decorate both full-sized outdoor trees and smaller indoor versions with colorful eggs, similar to a Christmas tree. The custom joins two internationally recognized symbols of life: the egg and the tree. The biggest Easter tree was maintained by the Kraft family in Saalfeld until 2015, with over 10,000 eggs.

Eggs are everywhere ahead of Easter. In Germany, they even grow on trees and are eaten with special miniature utensils. Now that's true love.

While no German breakfast spread is complete without a soft-boiled egg and all the trimmings, it is just one ingredient in the extensive meal. For a closer look at what makes up a real German breakfast, join Kate Müser on Meet the Germans in the video below. 

For more on German lifestyle and language, visit the Meet the Germans YouTube playlist or website

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