by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist

The big question we all have is which came first? The chicken or the egg? Eggs date way back thousands of years and go back to ancient Egyptians who were believed to have domesticated chickens for their meat and eggs as early as 4000 BCE. They seem to have been a very smart and sophisticated lot because a lot of food has been found in their times since they “recorded” much of it, so really, it could’ve been way before them.

There’s actual evidence though, that chickens were domesticated for their eggs as far back as 8500 BC in China. During this time, cultures were starting to incorporate eggs into their cooking practices and created dishes like the omelet, frittatas, and quiches using what they had on hand. Throughout time, cultures traded recipes that they incorporated into local cuisines.

Throughout history, eggs have been known to be of great significance to symbolize new beginnings, new life, or resurrection. Great example, Easter eggs, the symbolization for the death of Jesus and the resurrection. There are some cultures across Europe, South America, and Africa to break an egg at weddings or births for prosperity.

Even paintings by Botticelli depicting springtime with children holding baskets of colored Easter eggs, to ostrich eggs seen among the Native Americans that served as ceremonial purposes to indicate peace on members of their tribes.

In the medieval times, eggs became more widespread in cooking and expanded across Europe. This is when poultry farmers started coming into play.

Come the Middle Ages, eggs became more prominent in religious holidays, from Easter, to lavish celebrations from winning on the battlefield, to the famous Yorkshire pudding.

Technology started improving across Europe and so did preservation of eggs to last longer without spoiling, thus allowing farmers to transport. By this time, eggs became more prominent in everyday meals.

To this day, eggs have become one of the most common foods across the world. They are known for their health benefits and are a great addition to the daily diet.

One egg contains roughly 75 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 0 carbohydrates, 67 milligrams of potassium, 70 milligrams of sodium and 210 milligrams of cholesterol. Eggs are also a great source of vitamins A, D and B12, as well as choline, a nutrient essential in many steps of metabolism.

Aside from the cholesterol in the yolk, researchers say it’s ok to have at least one egg a day and obtain a healthy diet and they also say that eating eggs consistently leads to elevated levels of HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol.

What’s your favorite egg dish? Personally, there’s too many to count. The one egg dish I’ve been really wanting to try is shakshuka. Eggs poached in a tomato sauce, olive oil, peppers, onions, and garlic with spices.

Then there’s deviled eggs. There are many ways to make them, but have you ever tried smoked deviled eggs? Oh my goodness, they are to die for!

Anyways, so many options on how to enjoy eggs whether, scrambled, over easy, over medium, hard, boiled, poached, quiche, frittata, and the egg whites are superb when it comes to baking and making cakes light and springy. I’m leaving you with a shakshuka recipe though because then we can try it together.

It’s lengthy but don’t ever let that make you falter from any recipe because they tend to turn out to be easier than you thought. Happy cooking!

*Extra virgin olive oil
*1 large yellow onion chopped
*2 green peppers chopped
*2 garlic cloves, chopped
*1 teaspoon ground coriander
*1 teaspoon sweet paprika
*1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
*Pinch red pepper flakes optional
*Salt and pepper
*6 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 6 cups chopped tomatoes)
*1⁄2 cup tomato sauce
*6 large eggs
*1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves *1⁄4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

-Heat 3 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add the onions, green peppers, garlic, spices, pinch salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.

-Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook a bit longer to allow the mixture to reduce and thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

-Using a wooden spoon, make 6 inden- tations, or “wells,” in the tomato mixture (make sure the indentations are spaced out). Gently crack an egg into each indention.

-Reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and cook on low until the egg whites are set.

-Uncover and add the fresh parsley and mint. You can add more black pepper or crushed red pepper, if you like. Serve with warm pita, challah, or crusty bread of your choice.