Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.


I’m writing today to introduce a writer whom readers of this site may not know, Chris Offutt. I didn’t know his work until a friend sent me his essay “Trash Food,” published in the Oxford American, a fine magazine devoted to exploring southern culture. From here I went to an essay titled “Chicken Eggs.” Maybe you read about him recently in his essay in the NYTimes magazine about his pornographer father (an essay that landed him on Fresh Air shortly after), from his upcoming memoir.


But it was his “Chicken Eggs” that so affected me, and also made me wonder why some “literary” writers reach a large popular audience and others don’t. Because judging from “Chicken Eggs” alone, this writer deserves a larger audience. In this essay, he writes a lot about eggs, a subject dear to my heart, as most here know. But the essay, as the finest and most meaningful of food writing must be, is about more than eggs. About so much more, in fact, that I’d rather discuss it with other readers than say what I think, as the writing is oblique and drifty, and vivid, the scenes so clear they put me on edge.


How his father made the butter melt faster on his biscuits is a sentence that will enrich my life forever and I am grateful that chance (and the Oxford American) put it in front of me on my iPad.

But by chance! I don’t want to rely on chance! A friend spotted “Trash Food” on a great app called Long Form. I loved the essay so much I clicked the link to “Chicken Eggs” and I was officially a Chris Offutt fan. I look forward to reading his memoirs and stories.

He of course appreciates eggs as much as I. Toward that end, please also have a look at my post on asparagus, egg, and pasta. This would be way too fancy for the Kentucky boy, but so be it. Judging from his writing, he’s got better taste than he’d be willing to admit publicly, but I’ll bet he’d find this dish pretty damn good.


Other links you may like:

© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


12 Wonderful responses to “Chicken Eggs
by Chris Offutt”

  • Marc David Johnson


    Thanks for this posting. I read his article on his father a month or so back and who was responsible for getting me hooked on a lifetime of fiction.

    I read Shadowspawn from the Thieves’ World series when I was around 14 and that was one of the best books/characters I had yet read. I still keep a copy of the entire series around to read now and then.

    It is nice to see the talent for writing carried on.


  • Sylvia Bradley

    Thank you for introducing me to a fantastic writer. I want to read everything Chris has ever written.

  • Martha

    Thanks for sharing this, Michael. He’s a terrific writer and storyteller, I’ll look forward to reading more of his work.

  • Dana

    I’m SO not a fan of egg yolks unless they are beaten to a pulp and scrambled hard enough to bounce on my plate, but I have to say Donna’s picture of that yellow sphere is almost enough to make me rethink my whole position on the subject!

  • gwyn

    so much to say, i don’t know where to start. first, how happy was i to see that golden photo at the start of your post?! the yolk is the floozy of the food world. round, seductive curves saying ‘I know what you want.’ that was my favorite photo in “Egg.” then i missed my bus stop reading “Chicken Eggs.” Mr. Offutt hadn’t been on my radar, but now i’m putting all his books on my list. how can something be a little heartbreaking yet oddly joyful and inspiring at the same time. can’t wait to read more. thank you!!!

  • Anne

    I loved the essay. Thank you for sharing this. It’s always great to discover a new writer. Also, I tried the asparagus/pasta/egg conconction last weekend and it was amazing (mostly because of the egg, I think, which I never would have thought of myself). Thanks.

  • Kathy

    Thank you for this recommendation, I read all his essays this morning, wonderfully honest, laugh out loud funny and thought provoking. I found “Trash Food” particularly inspiring.

  • aqua6

    So fun to find out about an author who is new to me. Like others, I read his listed stories and ordered a book that I can start next week. Thank you for the tip! The photo of the egg in boiling water is pretty dynamic.

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  • Chad Thompson

    Thank you for introducing us to Chris, Michael! You truly live in a world of abundance when you can share your audience with others.

  • Mitch

    Thanks for sharing Chris Offutt’s writing. What comes first? The writer or the explorer? Reading about living in our time from his thoughtfully perspective starts conversations – the mark of a good writer. And triggers memories of my own childhood discovery of reading and of eating and of food as family glue.


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