Cloud Eggs: The Latest Instagram Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old : The Salt The fanciful dish was meant to impress nearly 400 years ago, so don't roll your eyes at photos of these pretty edibles: They're actually a time-honored tradition tinged with a bit of kitchen science.
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Cloud Eggs: The Latest Instagram Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old

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Cloud Eggs: The Latest Instagram Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old

Cloud Eggs: The Latest Instagram Food Fad Is Actually Centuries Old

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/529127751/529364548" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And now to a delectable Instagram fad - cloud eggs, beautiful fluffy egg white surrounding a sunny yellow yolk. They're pretty easy to make at home. You need eggs, a hand mixer, salt and pepper to taste before tossing them into the oven at 450 degrees. Maria Godoy is a senior editor at NPR's science desk and hostess of The Salt, NPR's food blog. This week, I invited her into my kitchen to see if they taste as good as they look.

MARIA GODOY, BYLINE: OK, so break it. Crack that egg, and then separate the yolk and the whites, and plop your whites into a big bowl because it's going to expand when you whip it up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF HAND MIXER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There must be some science to this, right?

GODOY: Yeah. There's actually a little bit of fun science. Egg whites are basically liquid. But they're full of protein? That's why they're good for us. And so when you whip them, you're breaking down those proteins.

And the proteins are usually like little balls that hang out by themselves, but when you whip them, they unfurl, they unfold and they start bonding with each other. And as they bond, they create a structure. And that structure captures air bubbles, and it gives the foam its shape. And we're going to have a nice fluffy cloud as a result.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK.

GODOY: OK, it's getting there. It's close.

(SOUNDBITE OF HAND MIXER)

GODOY: Look - peaks are holding. Peaks are holding. OK. So let's scoop this out. We're going to make two. OK, what I'm doing here is I'm making a divot because that's where our egg yolk's going to go, but first we want to bake this for three minutes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we're going to put the salt on now?

GODOY: Yeah, we can do it now. Sprinkle it to taste. And you know what? Let's do some cheese too because cheese is good.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. All right.

GODOY: OK.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Put some sharp cheddar.

GODOY: All right. Let's stick it in the oven for three minutes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, so we're doing this because basically it's all over Instagram. Is this a new thing?

GODOY: So here's the funny thing. It's new on Instagram. It's been showing up for the last few weeks, but there is a version of cloud eggs in a cookbook published in France in 1651. They sprinkled it with sugar but it's exact same preparation.

(SOUNDBITE OF TIMER)

GODOY: Plopping the egg yolk in the middle and then another two minutes. Let's try that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Another two minutes.

GODOY: Yep.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We're almost done.

(SOUNDBITE OF TIMER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Speaking Spanish).

GODOY: (Speaking Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's so pretty.

GODOY: This one looks perfect. Look at that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, but does it taste good?

GODOY: OK. Let's try. Bon appetit.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Bon appetit.

GODOY: Oh, nice. Breaking open that yolk and letting it run, yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Letting it run, oh, yeah.

GODOY: I hope it's not terrible. Let's see.

It turned out pretty good, actually.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's actually really nice.

GODOY: It's kind of something you can do at home. It looks like you're a fancy chef. And it makes it look like your life is this glossy wonderful version instead of the messy kitchen that you really live in. That's what social media's for, right? (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is what social media's for. And since you can't see my messy kitchen, that's awesome.

GODOY: It's actually perfect.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I cleaned it before you came.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Maria Godoy is the host of The Salt blog and also senior editor at NPR.

GODOY: Thanks for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You can see photos of cloud eggs on Instagram, of course, or at npr.org.

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