The Deviled Egg
by Christine Achille
I have a confession to make: I don’t cook and I don’t want to learn.
That having been said, I do love to eat. I moved to the French Quarter and promptly gained twenty pounds. I don’t care. I have the some of the best chefs in the world creating beautiful food all around me.
Those of you who do cook should know that I both envy and despise you. It’s not personal. It’s more like the way the geeky girls looked at the cheerleaders in high school. I see the way you effortlessly find creative ways to prepare potatoes, or watch you as you stir risotto and decide at the last minute to slice in a few shiitake mushrooms or throw in a fistful of slivered almonds. I watch this much in the same way as I watched the cheerleaders toss their silky Breck Hair over their shoulders and flash Pepsodent smiles. I long to be able to do what you do, yet know deep in my soul that even if I try, it will never be the same.
I know what you are thinking. Every one of you just now thought — perhaps even said out loud — “But cooking is easy! I could teach you!”
Thank you, but please don’t bother. I am perfectly fine with my limitations in the kitchen. I can’t play a piano concerto either. I’m a pretty clever woman, and quick to learn. I know that if I tried hard enough I could learn the recipes. As Charles Emerson Winchester once said, “I could play the notes, but I could never make the music.”
There are plenty of other things that I can do. I can tell a good story. I can make twenty dollars last me for a week. I know just what to say to each of my friends to make them smile when they are down. I can do single thread counted cross stitch on linen. I know how to get things for free. I can name all the presidents in order.
And I know how to make a Single Deviled Egg. This seemingly innocuous act created quite the Facebook Firestorm recently. I had been given a hard-boiled egg earlier in the day by someone who had packed it for her brown-bag lunch and then changed her mind. I said, “Sure, I’ll take it”, and tossed it into my purse.
Later that night, I was wanting a little snack and remembered the egg. I suppose I could have peeled it, sprinkled on a little celery salt and swallowed it whole. But I noticed that I had both mayonnaise and mustard in my refrigerator. I sliced the peeled egg in half and carefully scraped out the yolk into a bowl. I stirred in a thumbnail’s worth of mayonnaise and a pinky-nail’s worth of mustard. I mashed it all together and filled the hollows in the egg halves and set two deviled eggs on my prettiest plate.
I wished I had some paprika to sprinkle on top. But still, I was quite proud of myself. I had wanted something and created it. I poured myself a nice big glass of Pinot Noir and sat at the table. I took a deliberate, delicate bite of one of the deviled eggs.
It was smooth and creamy, with the familiar tang of mustard and the earthy incredible-edibleness of egg. I sipped my wine and took another bite. I ate two deviled egg halves in ten measured bites. I sipped the wine. I marvelled that I had made these. I hadn’t used a recipe.
For one fabulous and fleeting moment, I had made music.
Christine is one of the fabulous friends we’ve met in New Orleans. She may not cook but anyone who can wear a wench costume like she does, doesn’t need to.