A few states to the east, in Durham, North Carolina, chef and cookbook author Sara Foster can be found enjoying eggs in other unexpected manners (for this country at least). At a pizzeria near her own café, Foster's Market, Foster describes, "You can get anything you want on the pizza; they'll then crack an egg on top and bake it so the yolk is still soft. It's almost the same thing as sopping up an egg with toast, but you get to do it with pizza." (Try it at home: Add spinach and it becomes a pizza alla fiorentina; add capers and anchovies and it's alla veneziana.)
Eggs, Foster believes, "are the ultimate comfort food," and, for ease, poached eggs are unrivaled. "For a really nice dinner, I might top a piece of bruschetta with a poached egg, then add sautéed wild mushrooms with herbs." She also might make the sumptuous poached-eggs-and-pot-roast dish featured here, which, when you think about it, is a sophisticated riff on hash, the roadside diner standby so often topped by a rubbery fried egg.
Other inspirations from further afield: India-born, Washington, D.C.–based food writer Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice (Simon & Schuster, 2009), also avoids predictability with "the best dish ever": one combining eggs with potato chips. Wafer par ida, a South Asian Parsi favorite, starts with chopped onions and chile peppers sizzling in ghee (clarified butter) along with a ginger-garlic paste. Cilantro and crumbled potato chips are tossed in, and the mixture is formed into small crispy "nests" into which fried eggs are nestled. Across the country, at San Francisco's Zuni Café, eggs take center stage in a dish that begins with breadcrumbs saturated in olive oil and herbs and cooked until crunchy, then topped with whole eggs and cooked until the yolks are warm and runny. And depending on the season, that combo is paired with the likes of kale, beans, or harissa.
So crack open an egg and let it take you to some very different culinary places; you'll find your family scrambling to get to the table, and friends eager to poach your recipes!
How to Poach an Egg, Perfectly:
Water must be boiling and the eggs at room temperature. Add vinegar. Crack an egg into a bowl or cup and slide the egg gently into the water. The vinegar helps the white to set. Use a slotted spoon to lift the egg from the pan, leaving behind any scum.