Easter means eggs. With its (naturally genius and highly efficient) hard outer shell, the egg is the perfect food to represent Jesus Christ emerging from his rock tomb and rising from the dead. But well before Christians laid claim to the Easter egg and the Easter Bunny started delivering chocolate ones to children, the egg was a natural symbol of spring, fertility, and renewal. (Who wouldn't be awed by the sight of a tiny bird emerging from a seemingly inanimate object?) Ancient Persians used to give each other eggs on the vernal equinox to celebrate Nowruz, which marks the first day of spring and a new year. The egg spans all sorts of cultures. My friend and favorite Jew, Avi, tells me that in some Jewish traditions, when someone dies, family members fast. After they visit the grave site, the first food they eat is an egg, which symbolizes the cycle of life.

I don't mean to sound like one of those "incredible, edible egg" commercials, but the egg (and all its meanings) is pretty awesome—whether raw, cooked, or semicooked; whether it comes from a hen, a duck, or a quail. This year, I'm going to celebrate spring with quail eggs—those tiny, lovely cream shells with brown speckles. They're especially delicious hard-boiled and peeled, then dipped in just a bit of fancy salt. recommended

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Quail eggs (10 for $1.89) are available at Uwajimaya, 600 Fifth Ave S, 624-6248.