A couple of months ago I was in Volpetti shopping for guanciale and pecorino so I could make spaghetti alla gricia. Yeah, I know August isn’t the best time for a porky pasta dish, but I was craving some. While at the counter placing my order, I spied Paolo Parisi’s famous eggs, the ones that come from goat’s milk fed Livorno hens. Intoxicated by a combination of air conditioning and stinky cheese aromas, I decided to change the menu to carbonara and picked up a package of the most expensive eggs I have ever purchased.

The half-dozen pack cost €8, or $11. So that day I committed two terrible crimes: I made carbonara in August and I contributed to a vile, elitest movement that places the “best” products far from the reach of the average consumer, or at least from the practical one.

As much as I hate myself for contributing to the demand for such a silly thing, I have to admit I was curious. Were these fancy eggs really worth their price? And is it really so wrong to charge so much for a basic food product, no matter how niche? I had just read an interview with Michael Pollan in which he promotes buying $8 cartons of a dozen eggs. At that price, he says, you can make a two-egg meal for $1.50. Fine, but at €8, a two-egg meal with Parisi’s eggs becomes $3.66. Still not outrageous, but so out of reach for most Italians in a crisis economy.


Photo from PaoloParisi.it.

According to Parisi’s website, these particular eggs have a fresh taste, a yolk that is softer and richer in fat than most, with an uncommonly long protein structure and a mild almond flavor. They also have the capacity to incorporate three times the amount of air than the average yolk when whipped. Parisi recommends using his eggs for to mayo, zabaione, creams, and fresh pastas. I can add that they also make a nice carbonara.

As I ate, I pondered if they were worth the price. Did they provide a dramatically improved flavor to the pasta? No, at least not one relative to the price. Would you pay $22 for a dozen eggs?

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Carbs · Food & Wine

20 Comments:


  • could it be that you would have noticed a bigger difference if you had them raw? or in crema or zabaione?
    I agree that the price is outrageous, but maybe they are a little special? Now I feel like going to Volpetti and buying them just to try:-)

  • Katie

    maybe. shit now i have to buy another carton. wanna split it? :)


  • A hen is a bird and should be fed like a bird. In the last decades we made a disaster feeding the vegetarian cows with animal flours (I’m speaking about the mad cow disease)


  • Katie, I can say that you have written my doubts… Even if I’m sure that Parisi’s hens are feeded in the best way, I still cannot find the difference or, better, I cannot recognize the value for money… I’ve talked a lot about it, and the answer is always “… but it’s from Parisi!”. It’s not enough for me… tks, you have opened Pandora’s box, maybe….


  • Katie, I can say that you have written my doubts… Even if I’m sure that Parisi’s hens are feeded in the best way, I still cannot find the difference or, better, I cannot recognize the value for money… I’ve talked a lot about it, and the answer is always “… but it’s from Parisi!”. It’s not enough for me… tks, you have opened Pandora’s box, maybe….!


  • I buy fancy organic, free range eggs here in the states (but still only ~$4-6/ dozen). I’ve found the best eggs by far are the freshest… at my old farmer’s mkt in pasadena you could buy eggs harvested in the previous 24 hours and those always tasted better than the same eggs at ages of 48hours+ (and who knows how old the supermarket ones are). I really should just get a hen for my backyard =P

  • Katie

    @Bruno the idea of feeding milk to poultry initially put me off. it seemed just as you say, potentially dangerous. i did a bit of poking around and found that milk was “commonly fed to livestock in the 1940’s to help make use of excess milk production from the family cow…milk was a useful, if incomplete, vitamin source for poultry… Because milk is 90% water and only 3.5% protein, birds must drink large quantities of milk to supply a small portion of their daily needs…You would need to keep the milk trough full (and the water trough empty) for half of each day for the hens to drink this much milk. This amount of milk would supply only about 3% of the calcium needed for good shell quality. Such high levels of milk may cause diarrhea because birds produce low amounts of the enzyme needed to digest milk sugars.” Source. That last bit was what worries me. Making animals sick
    by giving them things they are not naturally adapted to consume.

    @Alberto I think Parisi is a clever business man for having tapped into ideas of branding and celebrity, both very powerful in the food and beverage industry, for egg production. Like you, I dont find a value in the product. they arent THAT much better to warrant the price tag.

    @Mel i think it is great that free range organic eggs are available for a reasonable price in your neck of the woods. at my local market in rome, the cost ranges anywhere from €2,20 to €3 for a half-dozen. i wish i could get them straight off the farm too!


  • Hmmm…do I really want a “mild almond flavor” in an egg? Also, “(Parisi’s eggs)have the capacity to incorporate three times the amount of air than the average yolk when whipped.” Will this alter a recipe when using one of Parisi’s eggs for a recipe developed with your average egg from the grocery? Just a couple of things to think about.


  • @tom good question. may have some impact on baking recipes but i doubt the difference is huge in something like pasta. and i made a frittata with a few and, while it was fluffy, it wasnt ridiculously so.

    And here is a bit more on parisi’s eggs by the man himself:

    http://blog.paoloparisi.it/2009/10/04/IOELUOVO.aspx


  • Funny…I was just thinking of this, since I chose not to buy the Parisi eggs at Tradizione the other day. I think there is actually a huge difference in flavor of eggs, but so much depends on what you do with them.


  • [...] sandwich said burger to me. I think next time I’ll have them hold the bread and ask for a Paolo Parisi egg, onions and [...]


  • [...] of the Roman classic is made with Verrigni‘s thick spaghetti, guanciale* from Monte Conero, Paolo Parisi eggs, Rimbas malesiano black pepper (recognized by Slow Food), pecorino romano, and pecorino from [...]


  • There is a little old lady at the Testaccio market selling only fresh eggs, at €1 for six, and they sure taste wonderful to me!

    And although I am not sure my virgin palette would appreciate the difference between those and Parisi’s eggs: I ate a carbonara he cooked at a Chianti vineyard last week and, perhaps because it was just one among many strongly flavored courses accompanied by excellent glasses of wine, I did not taste any real difference, at least worth the price, between my lovely brown neighborhood variety and the precious Livornese variety. I must admit I am not a fan of Volpetti, where I find the salespeople obnoxious and the products rarely worth the inflated price compared to the simply fresh food I find at my market.


  • PS: On the other hand, Parisi’s prosciutto, made in the Spanish style, with the fat integrated into the meat, is to DIE FOR!

  • Katie

    @Cathryn the consensus amongst chefs in Rome, where carbonara is on most menus, is that a good, organic egg from the market is just as good if not better than a Parisi egg. many use PP anyway because it is trendy and in some places, every branded ingredient is identified on the menu. if you make zabaglione, on the other hand, the difference is more discernable. parisi’s cured pork products, however are all immediately discernable as exceptional and superior to many similar products.


  • [...] are maniacally sourced (the milk comes from a biodynamic producer in Germany, the eggs are from Paolo Parisi, the chocolate is Amedei) and di Pomponio’s gelato is creamy and intense, with a consistency [...]


  • [...] Note the intense yellow orange of the yolk. Parisi feeds his chickens goat milk to obtain the rich flavor and color. The best egg I’ve ever had, hands down. (See Katie Parla’s excellent post on Parisi.) [...]


  • [...] Parisi’s hens just days before. These Livornesi hens are famous partially for laying the most expensive eggs in Italy. I’ve eaten them in Chef Stabile’s version of green eggs and ham (egg, purée [...]


  • [...] Note the intense yellow orange of the yolk. Parisi feeds his chickens goat milk to obtain the rich flavor and color. The best egg I’ve ever had, hands down. (See Katie Parla’s excellent post on Parisi.) [...]


  • I think Paolo’s eggs are expensive if you compare them to regular eggs. Since I love eggs so much I don’t see it as so high priced especially since eggs can last a while and are so versatile. However, if you didn’t taste a difference than no, not worth it!

    I finally got to meet him at his farm house by Pisa and loved the Uova 61. I was able to taste the difference and it was really amazing. I have not seen his eggs for sale anywhere in Florence, but then again I never knew to look for them. I may buy a batch next time and do a tasting at my house.

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