Are deviled eggs a good food for Halloween? In my most recent post, I explored some food history and some Halloween history. The association of spicy food with the devil doesn't have any special connection to the Halloween Devil (or to Devil's Night, an unfortunate Detroit tradition). However, I think spicy food -- anything "deviled" -- is a wonderful addition to a Halloween menu. I make deviled eggs all the time, especially for potlucks, and I've never come back with any leftovers. As you see from my photos, I even own a special deviled egg platter!
Deviled eggs don't need very many ingredients, and I would say that they don't need a recipe.* Today I used Hellman's Low-Fat mayonnaise (an incredible calorie bargain!), sriracha sauce, and salt in my egg-yolk mixture, mashed with a fork. For a large quantity of eggs, I use an electric mixer. Eggs and mayo are the standard ingredients, and I just add mayo until I like the texture. Then I add almost any condiment I feel like using until it tastes good. Sometimes I don't even make them spicy.
Today's garnish was Trader Joe's Hot & Sweet Cherry Peppers. I have at times garnished the egg halves with sliced olives, fresh red pepper slivers, or sprinkles of paprika. For anchovy lovers, if you know any, you could even use a little piece of anchovy on each egg! Don't worry about it, the filling doesn't have to be totally smooth, and you don't have to use a fancy icing tip device to make the filling look like a Dairy Queen. At least that's my opinion. Some cooks have other ideas.
|Wall painting of eggs from Pompeii: I remember |
learning in Latin class that a classic banquet in Rome
proceeded ab ovo usque mala, that is, from eggs to apples.
(Picture from wikipedia)
Fifteenth-century cookbook author Platina gave the following recipe:
"Make fresh eggs hard by cooking for a long time. Then, when the shells are removed, cut the eggs through the middle so that the white is not damaged. When the yolks are removed, pound part with raisins and good cheese, some fresh and some aged. Reserve part to color the mixture, and also add a little finely cut parsley, marjoram, and mint. Some put in two or more egg whites with spices. When the whites of the eggs have been stuffed with this mixture and closed, fry them over slow fire in oil. When they have been fried, add a sauce made from the rest of the egg yolks pounded with raisins and moistened with verjuice and must. Put in ginger, cloves, and cinnamon and heat them a little while with the eggs themselves." (source: Food Timeline)Recipes for stuffed eggs appeared frequently as time went on. As I pointed out in the earlier post, the use of the word "devil" for spicy foods dates to the late 18th century. By then stuffed eggs were common in much of European cuisine. A recipe using mustard, pickles, and vinegar appeared in an American cookbook in 1871. (source: Marion Harland)
The major difference between the way stuffed eggs were made more than 100 years ago and my method is that mayonnaise only came into use at the end of the 19th century, the first printed source being a recipe by Fanny Farmer. By mid-20th century, mayo was a standard, as in the recipe from The Joy of Cooking (1940s). Earlier cooks used melted butter, mustard, or oil to obtain a creamy texture for the egg yolk stuffing. Obviously the sriracha sauce I used is also an innovation -- though cayenne pepper is traditional in anything labeled "deviled."
Maybe you believe that deviled eggs are quite modern and enjoyable. Maybe they remind you of a Roman banquet or a Medieval feast. Maybe you envision the 1920s when the first specialized egg platters began to be manufactured. Or you see deviled eggs as a throwback to cocktail parties in the 1940s or 50s or 60s. Whatever you think, you're right!
* If you need a reminder on hard-boiling, my method is:
You should not try to hard-boil perfectly fresh eggs, because too fresh = too hard to peel.