https://i1.wp.com/images.foodepedia.co.uk/news/2011/may/gulls_eggs/eggs.jpgWho knew a seagull’s eggs could become a delicacy?

Yet, they have. (Photo courtesy of Foodepedia.com.)

21st century delicacy

They became popular in Britain several years ago. In 2009, The Telegraph reported:

Black-headed gulls’ eggs, which can sell for up to £5 each, were once the exclusive preserve of aristocrats with coastal estates.

They are now a staple of top restaurants such as Wiltons, Le Gavroche, The Ivy and Le Caprice, gentlemen’s clubs such as White’s, Brooks’s and Boodle’s, and are also sold at Harrods and Fortnum and Mason.

The eggs are growing in popularity and around 40,000 eggs a year are sold in the UK. But suppliers say the industry could soon disappear.

There are about 25 people who have a licence to collect the eggs but sources in the industry say that only around a third of these, all over retirement age, are still actively involved.

They still seem to be going strong in 2015. I had some just a few weeks ago.

A New York Times journalist described his gulls’ eggs experience in London in 2008:

They’re special. For one thing, they cost the better part of $10 a pop in a restaurant, and I bet you can’t eat just one, as the saying goes. They can be collected only by licensed gull’s egg collectors, and only from one variety of bird: the black-headed gull …

Oh, in case you’re wondering, they taste surprisingly un-oceanic — subtle in flavor, and very good, especially the yolks, which are rich and, well, eggy and have an excellent creamy texture when they’re not overcooked.

The reality

I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from trying gulls’ eggs, but they do not taste any different to free range hen’s eggs, which I can buy for 20 pence apiece.

They are served as an introductory course — starter (British), appetizer (American).

Gulls’ eggs are normally served with celery salt. They also need fat. Mine came with a too-lightly dressed salad. The eggs could have used a small side order of mayonnaise. I put a small amount of butter on each one.

In a normal restaurant or from a retailer, gulls’ eggs are £7.50 each. In a members-only club, which was where I had mine, they will be substantially less expensive. Mine were £2.50 each. The waiter will ask how many you want. Because of their size, three is the usual number.

They come in the shell, and the waiter brings a bowl for the shells. You do the work yourself. This is so that you can see the shell and discern that they are, in fact, gulls’ eggs.

The yolks are a bright orange, but, for me, no different to those of the poultry eggs I buy for substantially less.

That said, was I glad I tried them? Yes.

Would I have them again? No.

Legalities

Few restaurants serve — and retailers sell — gulls’ eggs.

They can be taken only from black headed gulls. This requires complying with UK government regulations for sustainability. Whilst no licence is required:

You must ensure the eggs are lawfully collected and you must have documentation to prove it.

You can sell the eggs (including hiring, bartering and exchanging) and advertise that the eggs are for sale.

Gulls’ eggs can only be sold until June 30. As the season starts in April, this item is strictly seasonal.

Recommendations

By all means, try gulls’ eggs if you’ve never had them. The diners at my table probably enjoyed looking at them more than I did eating them! It’s the novelty factor.

Ask what accompanies them, e.g. mayonnaise. If there is nothing, ask if a small dish or spoonful of mayonnaise can be provided. This should not cost extra in a good establishment.

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