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David Hensley

Anybody eating "cock" eggs?

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I've noticed lately, both locally and nationally, the trend of selling some preparation of "hens egg" on menus.

 

Pickled hens egg yolk

slow poached "hens egg" with whatever

"hens egg" gratin

 

You get the drift, folks.....

 

Have we all been eating cocks eggs, unknowingly? Have I really failed so badly at biology?

 

Is it the hens favorite egg?

 

WTF...please help me.....

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Well, there are other eggs, e.g., ducks and fish.  But, yeah, it's mostly semantic padding.

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Bad menu writing. Perhaps the result of a consulting fad....which by the way is probably worth a thread of its own. Business consultants, I've found( unless really top shelf) give everybody the same generic advice.

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Now that you mention it, 'hen' could mean a female chicken, as I usually assume, but it could also describe a female ostrich. Wouldn't that be a surprising omelette? :-D

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According to every dictionary that I own, and I own several, a hen is any female bird, especially, but not limited to, domestic fowl.  And, since only female birds produce eggs, "hen's egg" would be a redundancy - superfluous and unneeded.

 

In addition, there should be an apostrophe in "hen's egg" as it is the possessive, or genetive, case.


Edited by Shel_B (log)

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It bothers me a little too.  It's like saying Chicken Fried Chicken for regular fried chicken.  BTW I think I have figured which came first. It depends on your belief system though. If you believe in evolution, the egg came first because whatever laid it wasn't quite fully a chicken yet. If you believe in Creationism, the chicken came first.  She was created from the rib of a rooster. :)

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I ate cow cock soup, in Jamaica.

 

But seriously, does anyone  reading "hen's eggs" have any delusions that they might be anything other than chicken's?

 

The earliest usage of "hen" related to female chickens. It was later adopted to refer to other bird species. But not all. I've never heard of a "hen duck".


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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I've never heard of a "hen duck".

 

Ducks: Drake is a male, hen is a female. Being able to identify both species and gender while in flight is something duck hunters have to know how to do to stay within the law and the law (at least back when I still hunted ducks) specified gender as well as species for bag limits. (at least for the state in the USA where I have resided.)

 

Edited for geographical clarification.


Edited by Porthos (log)
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At an Elizabethan dinner a diner might ask "Is this a hen, pen, or peahen egg?"

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Ducks: Drake is a male, hen is a female. Being able to identify both species and gender while in flight is something duck hunters have to know how to do to stay within the law and the law (at least back when I still hunted ducks) specified gender as well as species for bag limits. (at least for the state in the USA where I have resided.)

 

Edited for geographical clarification.

Interesting. I have always known them as Ducks and Drakes and Geese and Ganders (What's good for the goose is good for the gander!)

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I thought this was going to be about rooster cojones. :raz:

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When I was growing up one of my favorite dishes when eating at Indian (Tamilian/Keralan) or Mamak shops was kari telur ikan (fish egg curry), maybe something that looked like this although usually what I got were "unruptured" eggs.  Or maybe a (shared) order of something like this.

 

If I had pei tan/dan with preserved ginger slices or rice congee with a sliced salted ovum they would be from ducks (female, of course).  In the milieu I grew up in, a wide enough range of eggs were commonly eaten such that one normally referred to what kind of egg one was talking about - "kai/gai tan/dan" (chicken eggs/hen eggs), "ngap tan/dan" (duck eggs), "yuu/jyu tan/dan" (fish eggs) and so on - in the normal course of conversation in a matter-of-fact manner.

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At first, I thought it might be meant to distinguish it from a quail egg at a place that might serve such things.  But then I thought, "Wait, aren't quail hens a thing?"

 

Upon reflection, it's worse than not specifying at all.  I think if I ever see this on a menu I'll have to ask the server if this refers to a guinea hen, a quail hen, a Cornish hen or (thanks to Wikipedia) a lobster hen.

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What?????  :shock:

 

"Hen" has generally referred to a female chicken in everyday conversation for a very long time, at least in my neck-of-the-woods.

 

When someone says "I have 12 hens." they sure as heck ain't talking about ducks, guinea fowl, quail or ostriches!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Merriam-Webster

a :  a female chicken especially over a year old; broadly :  a female bird
b :  the female of various mostly aquatic animals (as lobsters or fish)

 

The Dollar Hen by Milo M. Hastings, Copyright 1911

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Well, yes, in American speech, a hen is generally presumed to be a chicken hen.  And a hen's egg would be presumed to be from a chicken.  But also in America, an egg (menu-wise) is equally presumed to be a chicken egg.  And a chicken egg must necessarily come from a hen (for no other thing is possible).

 

However, the word 'hen' is clearly not limited to chickens, as your own Mirriam-Webster quote shows.  Many other reference works in include all fowls as well.

 

So by specifying 'hen's egg', the description begs interpretation.  It could be a) misguided pretentiousness (this is going to make me look cool) , b) deceitfulness (this will fool them into thinking it's something special), or c) near fraudulent deceitfulness (I said it was a hen's egg, it's a quail hen's egg).

 

In any event, it's a rare case that justifies dragging out pedantry as a tool of mockery.


Edited by IndyRob (log)
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Drop the ('s.)

 

"Hen Egg" Google 1,120,000 results.

 

Just one example:

"The main difference I noticed between quail eggs and hen eggs is that quail eggs have a slightly higher yolk to white ratio than hen eggs (delicious and perfect for the yolk-lovers like me!)."

"If you’re wondering if they taste like hen eggs, yes, their flavor is very similar."

"4 quail eggs is equivalent to about 1 large hen’s egg."

Source: http://www.anediblemosaic.com/?p=10175

 

Now really, won't most people know what "hen's egg" means?

I don't see anything cute or sneaky about it, it's common usage.

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Drop the ('s.)

 

"Hen Egg" Google 1,120,000 results.

 

Just one example:

"The main difference I noticed between quail eggs and hen eggs is that quail eggs have a slightly higher yolk to white ratio than hen eggs (delicious and perfect for the yolk-lovers like me!)."

"If you’re wondering if they taste like hen eggs, yes, their flavor is very similar."

"4 quail eggs is equivalent to about 1 large hen’s egg."

Source: http://www.anediblemosaic.com/?p=10175

 

Now really, won't most people know what "hen's egg" means?

I don't see anything cute or sneaky about it, it's common usage.

 

You put 'Hen Eggs' on your menu, didn't you. :biggrin:

 

You must be using a different Google than me.  "Hen Egg" (with quotes) produces about 793,000 results.  I can get a bunch more if I take off the quotes.

 

But this is not how common usage is measured.  God help us if we start searching for "Kardashian".

 

In America, we says egg(s).  Unless we're trying to differentiate them.  Organic eggs?  Check. Free range eggs? Okay. Quail eggs? Thanks. 

 

Hen's eggs?  Well, duh.

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Yes, we do say "eggs"....I almost always say "eggs."

I know what eggs I have so there's no point in calling them anything else.

If I have other eggs, quail or duck, I identify them as such.

 

A menu is different.

 

A "greasy spoon" will likely just use the term "egg", but other places where other eggs are possible will often, logically, identify the eggs specifically.

I've never seen "chicken egg" on a menu but I've seen "hen's egg" many times.

 

"Hen's Egg" Google menu search.

 

"Coddled Hen's Egg with Hollandaise."
"poached hen's egg"
"Crispy Hen's Egg"
"poached local free range hen's egg"
"Soft poached hen's egg"
"fried organic hen's egg"
"fried 'over the road' hen's egg"
"Hen's Egg with White Sturgeon Caviar and Pumpernickel"
"Pimenton Crusted Soft Cooked Hen's Egg"
"fried organic hen's egg"
"truffle cream and poached hen's egg"
"Smoked potato and hen's egg ravioli"
"potato cake with poached hen's egg"
"Hen's egg cooked at 63°c"
"rocket and hen's egg"

 

And many more.....

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I'll just leave it at my post #14 in this thread and point out that the commonly used phrase "Google is your friend" is not always true.

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Ducks: Drake is a male, hen is a female. 

 

According the the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) a duck is 

 

a A swimming bird of the genus Anas and kindred genera of the family Anatidæ, of which species are found all over the world.

 

b specifically. The female of this fowl: the male being the drake. In the domestic state the females greatly exceed in number, hence duck serves at once as the name of the female and of the race, drake being a specific term of sex.

 

 

As to "hen", the use in relation to the female of chicken is much older (c950AD)  than as reference to other birds (14th Century)  or fish (18th C) or anything else and today, unless qualified, is taken to mean chicken. The main OED definition is

 

 

1.a The female of the common domestic or barn-door fowl, the male of which is the cock. As in the domestic state the females greatly exceed in number the cocks kept, and their economic importance is more prominent, the word hens is also used in some connexions as = ‘domestic fowls’ without regard to sex. 

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I can't speak to the OED but I just checked the California DFG website and the bird identification illustrations still refer to drakes and hens.

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