How Eggs Skyrocketed In Popularity Throughout Medieval Times

Have you ever thought about when some of your favorite dishes were invented? Pondering how long humans have enjoyed a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not such a strange thought. Neither is thinking about when the luxurious invention of instant coffee first came into people's lives. When it comes to certain kitchen staples, like eggs, you might assume they must have ancient roots in history. So it's probably surprising to discover that the popularity of eggs is somewhat recent when compared to the long timeline of human civilization.

You may have read recent stories about 2,600-year-old cheese being discovered in Egypt or ancient wine being pulled from archival sites. While bird eggs have been consumed by humans across cultures for a whopping six million years, it wasn't until the Middle Ages that the ingredient really began to see culinary stardom.

The Middle Ages saw certain Christian holidays, like Easter, start to employ egg-based symbolism. This cultural shift encouraged greater farming of chickens to take place and soon egg-focused recipes started to more frequently grace the tables of peasants and royalty alike. From simple hard-boiled eggs to rich Yorkshire puddings, eggs saw a huge spike in popularity that is still felt in today's kitchens.

Modern egg cookery was born in the Middle Ages

Prior to the Middle Ages, eggs were eaten as a nutritious food source. Prehistoric chickens were farmed for their eggs, and certain egg dishes, like omelets, were well-known around the world. However, in the 14th and 15th centuries, eggs became a more important and common ingredient in meals across the continent of Europe.

There were several factors that influenced the rise of eggs across the continent. From Christianity embracing eggs during Easter to better preservation methods that made eggs easier to ship, there was a clear cultural push to utilize this accessible ingredient more. Wealthy families also used eggs in a celebratory manner. Those with money in Europe influenced the inventions of certain popular egg dishes, like Yorkshire pudding. As the demand grew, chickens were farmed more frequently and eggs were much more abundant than in prior time periods.

Today, the demand for eggs is still increasing across the globe. The versatile ingredient is needed in all kinds of popular dishes from baked goods to breakfast items internationally. The next time you bite into a warm, gooey omelet, remember that you're eating a piece of history.