In the last few weeks, I've been surprised to see the picnic classic, deviled eggs, on restaurant menus — done up in various styles and at different price points. The new Waldo boite, Remedy Food + Drink, serves a generous plate of five stuffed egg halves for five bucks. Chef Shanita McAfee's Magnolia's Contemporary Southern Bistro offers three, somewhat more upscale, versions of the same dish for $5.75.
A staple of church suppers and backyard barbecues, deviled eggs — the "devil" part refers to adding a fiery spice, maybe a touch of cayenne or a hint of fresh dill, to the creamy filling (typically egg yolks, mayonnaise or mustard, a bit of pickle relish or minced onion) — would be deadly dull without a little kick of something. My mother added a shot of bourbon to her filling recipe. It provided a kick, all right.
I read, in some online cooking blog, that the deviled egg "is the most popular hors d'oeuvre in the United States." I don't buy that. I'd say that dubious honor would go to the ubiquitous potato chip or, even more disturbing, those little sausages steeped in barbecue sauce and grape jelly. But the deviled egg does have a lengthy international history. As long as humans have been boiling eggs, they've figured out some intriguing way of making a hard-boiled egg look more stylish. The Russians tossed in caviar, the Hungarians sour cream, and there's a German variation with anchovies and capers.
But the recipe for deviled eggs is so uncomplicated (but labor-intensive if you're making a lot of them) that anyone who knows how to boil water can pull it off. Still, in this heat, if the choices are making them at home or ordering them in a cool, comfortable restaurant, I vote for the restaurant.
Who else in town is serving them?