If there is one defining food from the 1950’s, it would have to be the Deviled Egg. They were everywhere, and they have endured. Little boats of white, filled with yellow goodness.
You are in one of two camps with stuffed eggs, you either:
1) Can’t stand them and feel no compulsion to ever eat them.
2) You can’t be left unsupervised around them or the entire plate will suddenly disappear.
I am in the second camp. And I hate camping, so I must love eggs.
Ready for a little food history?
Why the name “deviled”? And why, with said name, would they be so prolific at church and society events? It seems back in the early 1800’s, any time you added spices of a spicy nature – yes, I know that doesn’t make a lick of sense – to anything, you were “deviling” it. From that came devil’s food cake, deviled ham (to which the people at Underwood decided to add a red devil to the packaging to frighten children away from ever trying it, not that I was like that…..ok, maybe a bit), deviled everything abounded. From Wikipedia, which is always correct:
The term “deviled”, in reference to food, was in use in the 18th century, with the first known print reference appearing in 1786. In the 19th century, it came to be used most often with spicy or zesty food, including eggs prepared with mustard, pepper or other ingredients stuffed in the yolk cavity….. In parts of the Southern and Midwestern United States, the terms “stuffed eggs”, “salad eggs” or “dressed eggs”, or “angel eggs” are also used, particularly when served in connection with church functions, avoiding the name “devil.”The term “angel eggs” is also used in association with deviled eggs stuffed with “healthier” alternatives.
Apparently, seasoning your food with anything but salt was a sign of bad things to come. No wonder there are no recipes for these eggs in my Lutheran church cookbooks. That explains a lot about Lutheran cooking actually……..But these eggs, whatever you want to call them, actually have a rich and varied collection of ingredients that predate the charming, kitschy 1950’s anything-goes-with-mayo craze. Oh, look on the bottom shelf!
In Sweden, the deviled egg is a traditional dish on the Easter Smörgåsbord, where the yolk is mixed with caviar, cream or sour cream, optionally chopped red onion, and decorated with chopped chives or dill, perhaps with a piece of anchovy or pickled herring. Three words come to mind here – count.me.in.
Leave it to us Americans to completely blandify (What? That’s totally a word.) a dish that has a rich history. And an old history to boot. From what I can piece together, these eggs date back to 80 A.D. when a gastronome names Apicius may or may not have written a cookbook. Either way, he loved his food. A lot. His name became synonomous with the title “gourmand” and a cookbook, written around 1-5 A.D., a date which no one seems to completely agree upon, contains the following things to do with eggs:
1. FRIED EGGS OVA FRIXA
FRIED EGGS ARE FINISHED IN WINE SAUCE.
2. BOILED EGGS OVA ELIXA
ARE SEASONED WITH BROTH, OIL, PURE WINE, OR ARE SERVED WITH BROTH, PEPPER AND LASER.
3. WITH POACHED EGGS IN OVIS HAPALIS
SERVE PEPPER, LOVAGE, SOAKED NUTS, HONEY, VINEGAR AND BROTH.
Also from the Roman cookbook: Most of the Apician directions are vague, hastily jotted down, carelessly edited. One of the chief reasons for the eternal misunderstandings! Often the author fails to state the quantities to be used. He has a mania for giving undue prominence to expensive spices and other (quite often irrelevant) ingredients. Plainly, Apicius was no writer, no editor. He was a cook. He took it for granted that spices be used within the bounds of reason, but he could not afford to forget them in his formulæ.
OK, spooky. This sounds so much like me. I am no writer, no editor. I am a cook. I love Apicius. Whether he wrote the cookbook or merely inspired the recording of the foods that were eaten in the Roman Empire – I am thankful for his existing. Food dork, remember?
Where were we?
Eggs. Deviled eggs. Stuffed, angel eggs. Whatever. My daughter used to call them eggboats. So, eggboats they are.
Here’s What I Did:
1. I used the method of bringing eggs to a boil, from cold water, then covering them with a lid and turning the heat off. I let them sit for 25 minutes.
*Helpful Hint From Heloise: When placing your eggs carefully in the water and they start cooking, stir them often during the first few minutes to “center” the yolks. Otherwise, they end up on one end of the egg, making a less than stable filling area. And also, it just looks better…..
See example below: 1) not stirred enough 2) stirred well
2. I used salt, pepper, prepared mustard and almond milk as my liquid instead of cream. They looked very tasty! Then I read farther down the page……
3. Well, well, well. I didn’t have any crisp bacon (tsk tsk), lobster, or anchovies. I didn’t have “frizzled beef“, which by the way is a term I am in love with, but I did have frizzled chorizo. Chorizo is a slightly spicy Mexican sausage, which you can frizzle to your heart’s content. In it went.
4. I topped them all with Trader Joes South African Smoked Seasoning, made from basil garlic, paprika flakes, and salt. They were divine. I chilled them, and ate every single one.
As I was researching about eggs, I stumbled on a tidbit that made me chuckle…..”The “devil” in devil’s food most likely refers to the cake’s “sinful” nature, or possibly the fact that it is quite heavy relative to angel food cake”.
When The Man and I eloped, his aunt who was a professional cake decorator offered to make us a wedding cake for the reception. Aces! Problem was, she had very specific ideas about the appropriate flavors of cake that we should have. I understand she made a lovely pineapple cake. Um…..he and I wanted an all chocolate cake. She refused. She said it would be ok for us to have a layer of chocolate cake because we were now married, but that was that. So much of our food history is inspired by beliefs like that, that chocolate cake is sinful and bad. It really isn’t. Well, gluten-free chocolate cake often is…….bad, that is.