Salted Egg – Itlog na Maalat

Chopped salted red eggs with chopped tomatoes and steaming hot rice have been a favorite meal since early times. But how did salted red eggs started to be around dinner tables? This Philippine myth offers this version.

The myth says, a long time ago in a town called Palanyag, robberies were rampant. Robbers took everything of value from homes, even a pot of rice. According to the myth, local robbers soon became more adept with entering and robbing houses unseen so that more items were reported missing everyday.

One day, the myth says, a farmer and his wife from Palanyag went to the city to visit their son for a few days. The son was studying there. Before the couple left for the city, though, they worried about leaving their dozen poultry eggs behind. With the burglaries happening everyday, nothing left home was safe. It would look silly taking the eggs with them to the city—unless they planned to give them to their son. But this couldn’t be the case—their son was allergic to eggs. So they thought of what best alternative they had regarding the eggs.

Then they had an idea. They buried the dozen eggs in their yard so that the robbers would not be able to discover and take them while they were away. But then the eggs might rot, they worried. What if they would take 4 or 5 days before going home from the city? They decided to put lots of salt around the eggs in the pit where they were to bury the eggs to keep them from decaying. It was a long-shot experiment.

As anticipated, the visit took 4 days. They went back home, wondering what had became of their 12 poultry eggs. They took the eggs out of the pit and examined each of them. For one thing, they smelled differently from how eggs normally smell. Spoiled? Probably. Burying anything in the ground for four days usually had that effect.

Suddenly, robbers came barging into their house. Surprised, the couple instinctively threw the eggs on the robbers’ faces. The eggs broke on their faces and they inevitably had a taste of the “rotten” eggs. They tasted good. Soon, the robbers and the couple were eating the red salted eggs.

This myth on how the red salted eggs first started to be eaten implicitly shows how necessity is the mother of all discoveries, even in culinary arts.

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