I find that I really enjoy eating things with immense, massive flavor profiles that keep changing in the mouth as you bite and chew and smoosh around with your tongue and stuff. Things that stink a lot are a good bet. Things that are fermented as well. I remember watching Fear Factor and there’s like 3 contests and the middle contest was the eating contest and they put a plate of fucking century eggs on the table. They called em 1000 year old eggs. I was thinking to myself if that were me on the show, that’s an easy win. Hell, I’d pay to eat the eggs son.

There’s just something magic about century eggs. They shouldn’t be edible! But they are and wondrously so. You take some clay and alkali and cover the eggs, raising the pH dramatically and also preserving them. However, at the same time, the curing process breaks down some of the proteins within the eggs and creates all these complex flavor compounds that are otherwise impossible.

Even the look is awesome. At first glance, they’re just blackish but the tops tend to be translucent up close with light shining through, like one of those amber fossils. Then it slowly darkens gradually into a dark gray because of the yolk inside. Sometimes, you also get this snowflakey pattern on the exterior as well, which can be kinda cool. Then when you break it open, the inside is all gooey and gross and delicious. The smell is sulfuric ammonia. Everything points to do not eat.

Once you place it on the palette, it’s insane. You get the “whites” which have a jellylike consistency with a mild brightness. Then there’s the yolk with it’s unctuous glory, shifting from a dense dark custardness riddled with pungent notes into this creamy earthiness that’s really intense and you get a really strong, lingering tannicish aftertaste. Sometimes the yolks are set relatively hard but I personally prefer the ones where it’s not cured completely and it’s black liquid fucking gold in the center. Like some demonic nectar only available after sacrificing the firstborn of a duck to satan via an alkaline bath.

I can understand that many people do not share my fervor for century eggs but I find them essential for life. They stink, they look horrible (or cool) and they taste seriously funky. Even the production method used to be seriously funky. More modern versions can be made without the messy clay/woodchip coating. In fact, you can even do it at home if you buy some CaOH and NaCO2.

I really wonder how else you can cure eggs or indeed other foods to transform them into the miracle that is a century egg. Could you perhaps take some tofu or beans or fruit or meat and cure it in a way that would mutate them into the devil’s work? Or would it all just spoil. I reckon eggs work really well because of their nature but maybe fish roe could be a highly plausible thing to try. Caviar even. I’m sure some Chinese dude somewhere is gonna read this and make super cheap caviar by buying lots of salmon roe and curing it until it turns black or some shit and then slapping some du jour Frenchie label with a picture of a sturgeon in a fake mother of pearl tin for $20. And you eat it and you puke. Or, it’s gonna appear on Noma’s menu alongside a scene of a Nordic fjord recreated with horseradish and dill.