First you boil the eggs. I like to avoid the outside of the yolk turning green which I vaguely recall comes from an over long cooking time. Then you stand at the sink and peel the eggs, simultaneously trying to keep the egg in one piece and not get one of those painful slivers of shell under a finger nail. Put the eggs on a paper towel and let them dry.
I learned what I know about making deviled eggs from my mother, Doty. We had deviled eggs at Easter with the baked ham, at Thanksgiving with the roasted turkey, and at Christmas with the pork shoulder. They were also a staple at the many picnics our cash strapped family enjoyed in lieu of restaurant meals when traveling. Pulling off the road we set up at a picnic area and ate our sandwiches, the eggs, and some store bought cookies. Then we ran into the bushes to pee and piled back into the car, never realizing that other folks ate in restaurants and stayed in hotels when traveling. We only visited family, sleeping in the floor or piling 4 or 5 kids into a saggy double bed.
After the eggs dry, cut them in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and put them into a small bowl. They require Duke’s mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and my family, in what can be called an act of sedition, likes a dash of horseradish. Doty would not approve.
In 2003 my mama visited us for the last time. The occasion was the birth of my first grandchild, her first great grandchild, a much ballyhooed event. Those big family meals at holidays had moved to my house years before and when she was here she loved to join in the preparations. Until that day I had pretended that everything was fine. She was just anxious and too worried over trivialities. That was all.
I handed her the bowl of eggs and I watched her struggle to peel them. I was not going to offer to help and take away her participation in the preparations. I wanted her to have something on that table that she got all the ahhhs for.
Finally she asked me how it was done claiming that it had just been too long since she made a deviled egg. The darkest cloud I had ever known lowered over my head. Something real bad was coming toward us and I feared how it would end.
Mix the yolks with the other ingredients until well blended. My mama used her hand mixer to make an eggy fluff that over filled each egg. Hers were always generously sprinkled with McCormick paprika from the little red and white can. I like to top them with a slice of olive or pickled okra. I was always rebellious.
These days I can’t seem to make deviled eggs without recalling that foreboding and sadness when I got a glimpse of the darkness that was bearing down on us. I call it the deviled egg blues and like a good blues tune the memory both slays me and resurrects me.