Ode to Deviled Eggs

PHOTO: Dennis Yang, Flickr CC

PHOTO: Dennis Yang, Flickr CC

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

Carnivores eat eggs. They have for a long time. I recall an artist’s rendition from my childhood “Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs” depicting a sneaky rodent-like dinosaur spiriting away some big egg from the Mighty Somethingosaurus.

I imagined the crafty lizard cracking open that big egg, devouring the eggy goodness inside like slop from a trough. I won’t lie, my reverie was not scientific — it was aspirational.

Today is Easter. Like many significant Christian holidays, the old Roman tradition of absorbing previous traditions to appease the masses has endured. In the case of Easter, that means eggs.

Spring is a season of fertility and new growth. Nothing signifies that better than an egg. We commemorate this by eating inadvisable quantities of eggs. Good thing. Eggs are delicious.

Let us consider for a moment the type of carnivore we’ve become. No mere lizard snatching a cauldron of dino-yolk, we have added layers of ceremonial process.

We have become the kind of carnivore who harvests chicken eggs, hard boils and dyes them in pastel colors. Slicing the egg in two, we extract the cooked yolks, blending them with mayo, mustard and seasoning. Then, in a move that would confound the ancient lizard in our story, we scoop the yolky mixture — get this — back into the half egg white and spritz them with paprika. In this manner we make deviled eggs.

Deviled eggs are named for the 18th Century term “to devil,” which means to add spice. But the dish has gone by many names dating back at least to the Roman Empire, where they were a traditional first course at dinnertime.

Some, disapproving of references to the Devil, call them dressed eggs, stuffed eggs, or even Angel Eggs. But anyone who has looked down upon an empty plate, gazing at paprika-stained hands with remorse, knows the most common name is the most appropriate.

Today, families gather for Easter dinners across the land. By morning light someone (specifically my mom) assembles rows of deviled eggs for the occasion. For a family potluck, making deviled eggs is the sort of task that falls upon a single individual who is then pressured to repeat the task annually for the duration of their natural lives. Only the sweet release of eternal rest would excuse them from this sacred obligation. Someone else could relieve them, I suppose, but no one is in a hurry to make their kitchen smell like outhouse fumes. Thus, such transfers of power are rare.

And yet everyone at the event mills about the kitchen, gazing out the window for the bringer of deviled eggs to arrive. When the eggs appear, guests engage in a venerated tradition of hovering closer and closer to the egg plate, daring each other to be the first to nab one of the enhanced ova.

Let us consider the virtues of the deviled egg.

Each egg is shaped like a tiny little flavor boat. Toot toot! No, literally. TOOT TOOT.

The combination of textures has no comparison. The filling is a savory sensation while the boiled egg white is like eating salted rubber.

Like potato chips, one can eat a staggering number of deviled eggs before realizing what has happened. This increases the likelihood of forgetting how many you had, which introduces plausible deniability when it comes time to enter in your Weight Watchers points.

For this same reason, you never have to worry about leftovers. Deviled egg enthusiasts will ensure that you return with an empty egg tray to a home that will smell like eggs for three days.

There exist on this confounding earth people who do not like deviled eggs. I married one, so I know they’re real. While these strange creatures defy understanding they should not be persecuted.

More eggs for the rest of us.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, March 27, 2016 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.


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