Araucana chicken eggs have become an increasingly common sight at the farmers’ market over the past few years, but even so, the pale blue shells never cease to delight shoppers more accustomed to their more mundane white and brown counterparts. This past weekend at the Union Square Greenmarket, they could be purchased from a couple of farm stands; the ones pictured above come from Norwich Meadows Farms, which sold them at $6 for a half-dozen.
The price reflects the rarity of the Araucana breed: the birds originated in Chile, where they are thought to have been bred by the Araucanian Indians. According to Araucanas Online, today’s bird doesn’t much resemble its first ancestors, and is often confused with Ameraucana and Easter Egg chickens, which also lay blue eggs. Araucanas are categorized as a rumpless chicken (which means they’re missing their last vertebrae and lacking tails), and are further distinguished by their ear tufts and lack of wattles. Because the missing vertebrae can cause fertility problems, and the gene for the ear tufts is lethal, causing many chicks to die before they hatch, Araucanas are very difficult to breed.
The novelty of the eggs is limited primarily to their color: the taste doesn’t differ noticeably from the regular free-range eggs more commonly found at the market. Still, they’re undeniably pretty and, more importantly, are absolutely delicious. They make an excellent base for egg salad, seen above, and are ideal for really anything else you’d use regular chicken eggs for. And as an added bonus for you domestic types, left alone in their shells they can provide a centerpiece lovely enough to make Martha Stewart blush.