“Easter” Eggs, all year long
Before we know it, nary a chocolate bunny ear will be found in the shops around town. Easter accessories will soon make way for other spring-like decorations, and it will be a whole year until Lindt’s famous gold-wrapped chocolate bunnies take over the supermarkets again here in Zürich. Hand-painted Easter eggs are no longer at the markets either, with their intricate designs and impressive handicraft. But what you do see – 365 days of the year – are bright, colorful eggs.
Blue, purple, yellow, orange, sometimes tie-dyed or with designs on a theme, linked to a holiday or season. When I first moved here, during the summer of 2008, Zürich was all about hosting the Euro Cup (the big quadrennial soccer tournament). So much so that eggs in supermarkets and on hotel breakfast buffets were emblazoned with the flags of participating countries. After the soccer frenzy, the eggs lost their flags, but showed up in every color imaginable, throughout autumn and into winter. I had never seen this before and clearly thought it was the funniest thing, especially since Easter was months away.
What were they ? Nothing more than hard-boiled eggs. Referred to as salad eggs or picnic eggs, for just those purposes. Even more so, a very common snack for hikers, easy to throw in a backpack with bread, cheese and sausages. (And chocolate if you’re hiking with me.)
I got used to seeing these multicolor eggs at the supermarket all throughout the year. You can even get them organic if you choose, buy them individually (pick your favorite colors) or in crates by the dozen, the latter in the same packaging as a carton of raw eggs. I’m sure there are people who have grabbed the wrong carton and wondered why their eggs were sponsored by Rainbow Brite. (Ok, perhaps it’s a good idea to distinguish them then.) On my most recent visit to the Coop supermarket here, in addition to the many varieties of raw eggs, you also had 5 different options for hard-boiled: crates of 4 green and yellow eggs; crates of 6 blue, red and yellow eggs; one dozen red eggs; 6 “spring” pastel-colored eggs; or blue eggs and yellow eggs sold by the piece.
Of course boiling eggs at home isn’t exactly difficult or time-consuming. But it’s a common thing here to buy them pre-cooked, not much more expensive than raw eggs and simply fun for a change. Most of all, I love seeing the startled reactions of family and friends when I add them to my weekend brunch buffet tables at home. With barely an exception, I get expressions of bewilderment (or just giggles) when they see them on the table. What are those ?! I often end up going to the pantry to show them the packaging.
“They’re eggs,” I answer, nonchalantly. “Hard-boiled eggs. They sell them at the store like that. What, you’ve never seen them before ?!”
Have you ?