Gold Eggs and Ham

The color of gold has been used to describe the culture and cuisine of Italy for centuries. The illuminated halos of gold in Renaissance paintings and the golden tiles of the mosaics of Ravenna are indelible examples of  the brilliance of Italian art. The golden balls of the Medici bankers were image makers long before branding became a market strategy.  Gold merchants span the Arno on the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s bridge of bling, and the Doges of Venice wore stiff horn-like bonnets (corno ducale ) made of  golden brocade. The high-fashion emporia and chic boutiques of Milan’s Qaudrilatero d’Oro (Golden Triangle) have made the color of gold a design icon. Italian chefs create culinary alchemy with golden grains of saffron flavored risotto and “liquid gold” from Italy’s extra virgin olive oils while fields of yellow sunflowers have Italianophiles longing to bask under the Tuscan sun.

But perhaps the most dramatic symbol of Italian gold is not found in the Vatican museums or the jewelry shops of Florence and Rome but in the farmyards near Pisa where Paolo Parisi has taken the lowly egg and elevated it to the status of Italian gold. Parisi’s heritage bred Livornese chickens, fed on a foraged diet supplemented with scraps from the production of cheese from the goats on his farm, are said to produce an egg of such extraordinary flavor (sweet almonds) and texture that they carry a price tag of  €8, or $11 for a half dozen. What makes this egg the richest egg in Italy? The fresh taste and a golden yolk that is softer and richer in fat than most with the capacity to incorporate three times the amount of air than the average yolk when whipped. This means that your pasta, zabione, creams ,custards  and carbonara will be golden in flavor and appearance because the yolks of Parisi’s eggs are intensely – fluorescent gold! Parisi also raises Cinte Senese pigs, an ancient breed native to Tuscany known for their heritage flavor. Giving new meaning and color to one of the world’s most famous culinary parings – eggs and ham

And if Parisi’s commitment to eco-sustainable farming methods wasn’t enough his eggs are lovingly housed in a carton made from an organic fabric embedded with small seeds of marjoram. Plant, harvest and then cook “L’uovo assoluto” a Parisi recipe for eggs made with foglie di maggiorana (majoram)shown on the backside of the pack. Brilliant.

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