November 2nd is National Deviled Egg Day.
Deviled eggs took off as picnic and cocktail party fare after the second World War. But their roots date back to ancient Rome.
The cooks of wealthy Romans boiled eggs, seasoned them with spicy sauces and served them as a first course (known as gustatio).
Serving these deviled eggs to guests was so common that it featured in a Roman saying, “ab ova usque ad mala,” literally from eggs to apples (indicating from the beginning of a meal to the end), or what we might call “from A to Z.”
The culinary record is relatively quiet until the 13th century, when stuffed egg recipes begin to appear in Andalusia, the south of Spain. The yolks of boiled eggs are mixed with with cilantro, onion juice, pepper and coriander, fish sauce, oil and salt. After the mixture was stuffed into the egg whites, the two halves were fastened together with a small stick and seasoned with pepper.
DEVILED EGGS VS. STUFFED EGGS
By the 15th century, stuffed eggs were found throughout Europe. One medieval recipe filled therm with raisins, cheese, marjoram, parsley and mint. They were then fried in oil and topped with a sauce of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, raisins and verjuice, or dusted with sugar. Both executions were served hot.
The first known printed mention of “devil” as a culinary term appeared in Great Britain in 1786. It referred to dishes that contained hot and spicy ingredients (like paprika), or those that were highly seasoned and broiled or fried.
By 1800, deviling had become a verb to describe the process of making food spicy. Deviled eggs were seasoned with chiles, horseradish, mustard, paprika and spicy sauce.
So all deviled eggs are stuffed eggs, but only stuffed eggs with hot spice are deviled eggs.
TOP PHOTO: A book of deviled egg recipes. Get yours at Amazon.com. BOTTOM PHOTO: Deviled eggs with smoked okra (recipe). Photo courtesy Rick’s Picks.