Deviled-Eggs in the White City


Yes. It’s that time of year again. Easter is the quintessential time of year to make the well-known “deviled eggs” dish. For years, I’ve enjoyed my mom’s, my grandmother’s, and my brother’s deviled eggs, never imagining the complexities of slicing an egg in half, mashing its yolk to death with a variety of spices and mayo, and then redepositing said yellow mashings back in the cavity… In fact, that doesn’t sound very tasty at all. But when it came time for me to attempt this disconcerting dish for Easter, I mumbled a quick “psht” and went to work. ‘Easy,’ I thought. ‘It’ll only take five minutes.’ That…was a stupid thought.

Eggs have been an enemy in my kitchen before. Usually, it’s because they won’t break properly, the yolk won’t separate from the white, an eggshell will fall into the gelatinous batter, or…other surprises lie inside. This time, I would be boiling the little suckers, which is certainly the least involved and best thing one can do with an egg.

First, it came down to quantity. Because I’m an obsessive-compulsive at heart, I decided to ration my supply of eggs. I boiled six so that there would be two halves for each person. I also had plans to make a zucchini cake (stay tuned for a future cooking adventure!) and needed four to accomplish that. So, I filled a pot with water, plopped six eggs into it, and set the heat on the stove top to a boil. As is usual with this 60’s era oven, it took some time before the water heated up and boiled, and I had to wait another ten minutes before the eggs would be ready. Once that was done, I took the pot off the burner and let the eggs cool.

I worked on the dastardly zucchini cake while I waited and once that went in the oven, I returned to the hard-boiled eggs. Huddling over the trashcan like a homeless person at a barrel fire, I cracked each egg and precariously picked at the shells to free the egg from its prison. This took a very long time. It’s during this process that I pondered the complexities of life (ie: why the earth is round, why french fries don’t taste good after being reheated, who could have assassinated Kennedy, and where the Gardens of Babylon might be). Okay, I really just swore a bunch, promising death and doom to each egg as I picked at it and then deposited their naked forms in a bowl for later dismemberment.

Then came my favorite part (psyche). I took up a paring knife and delicately sliced each egg in half along with the yolks. Said yolks are meant to be toward the center of each egg, as is illustrated in almost every single photograph ever taken of professionally done deviled eggs. Such was not the case here. Most of the yolks had relocated toward the narrower end of the egg and after removing them, left a hole in the bottom of the cavity.

Not only did they leave holes, but some of the yolks simply didn’t wish to leave their cozy homes. After jabbing at them with spoons and knives and muttering, “You damn dirty eggs,” over and over, I managed to collect all of the yolks in a bowl. I received great pleasure in mashing them to hell with my spoon. It’s such a cathartic process, especially after such an obnoxious battle to collect them all. Mixing in some mayo, a tiny bit of mustard, too much salt, and pepper, I re-read the directions and double-taked on one particular ingredient: vinegar. It sounded disgusting. I also didn’t have any. My substitute choices were apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar. I chose for the former and only added a tiny bit to the strange concoction before mixing everything together. Then, I took a taste.

Had there been anymore salt in it, I’d have dried up and turned into a pillar in my very own kitchen. Unfortunately, I was fresh out of egg yolks to add and there was nothing else I could think to include that would make it blander. I was forced to go with the yolky mush as it was.

If that wasn’t enough, I somehow had to put it all back in the holey yolk cavities. I’m sure one could have used a pastry bag or a plastic bag if they wanted it to look professional. I didn’t desire that. I was at the point of no return, teetering on fury and incredulity. I took my spoon and glopped it into each spot…and somehow ended up with extra at the end anyway.  I dashed a little bit of paprika on the tops but didn’t expect them to look anymore amazing because of it.

Despite them not being the product I’d hope they’d be, everyone still enjoyed them and every last egg was eaten. Next time, I’ll rely on someone with a little more patience to show me how before I dive in. I’ve got a whole year to practice before next Easter…

Stay tuned for Thursdays Literary Video Cooking Adventure: Fin City: A Dame to Grill For!



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