In the central Chilean regions of Bío Bío and Araucanìa, characterized by the high number of indigenous Mapuche peoples, farmers’ market stalls are laden with kaleidoscopic displays of eggs colored cobalt blue, pale green and everything in between. Temuco, in the Araucanía region, is particularly famous for its blue eggs.
Temuco chickens always lay blue or green eggs, with a genetic trait that turns the bird’s white eggs blue and its brown eggs green. In Chile, this particular chicken breed is called the Araucana, the name that conquering Spaniards gave to the Mapuche people, as well as to the region’s chickens.
It is not clear whether the Araucana chicken is an indigenous breed or if it is a descendant of the chickens first brought from Spain by the conquistadores. The Araucana has been the subject of much interest and research in Chile; it is apparently unique in its ability to exclusively produce blue eggs.
Many of the breeds now present in the Americas that regularly produce a percentage of blue eggs may well be descended from crosses with the Araucana.
Today, the Araucana has been crossed with so many different breeds that it is no longer possible to describe it as a “pure” breed with predictable physical characteristics. To fully understand the Araucana, long and complicated research is necessary.
Even then, as with many animal breeds that are poorly documented and frequently crossed, the Araucana will always have a mysterious past.
Although the laying chickens all have different physical appearances, they are clearly from the wide gene pool of the Araucana, and none can survive in industrial chicken farms.
These chickens must be kept outside in order to produce eggs.
In Chile, where agriculture is rapidly intensifying, the blue eggs are a uniquely valuable “self-identifying” product: the eggshells are a sign of free-range quality that cannot be counterfeited.
What is a Slow Food Presidia?
The Slow Food Presidia are projects sustaining quality production at risk of extinction, protecting unique regions and ecosystems, recovering traditional processing methods, safeguarding native breeds and local plant varieties.
Check out our website: http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/presidia