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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.


It's All About the Plate


I have had many deviled eggs. Funny, PAAS dyed ones on Easter Sunday, festively paprika flecked ones on the Fourth of July, and unmemorable types at the odd Ladies’ luncheon. And no offense to the matriarchs in my family, but like most things these days, I like my way the best. One grandmother’s store-bought mayonnaise produces a dry offense and the other’s use of curry powder only takes away from the rich yolky goodness.

A few Easters ago I was feeling frisky and piped the yolks with a 1/2 inch star pastry tip; hit the whole platter with a generous bam! of paprika, and well that was just plain tacky. Thankfully, I was in California. These days, I like ‘em straight up (chased with a spicy Bloody Mary, extra dilly beans on the side, please!). All I need is the basics, a compilation of both grandmothers’ recipes: fresh eggs, homemade mayonnaise, mustard, salt, some member of the onion family, and I am good to go.

Unfortunately, at present, I serve my deviled eggs on a plain white Ironstone platter which forces fingers into a devilish little game of “catch the egg” as they slip and slide around. One adult day, I will own a proper deviled egg platter, and as with most Southern kitchen relics like cast iron skillets, wooden spoons, and crystal punch bowls, it will be a hand-me-down, an inheritance.

    • 1 dozen eggs, preferably free-range and organic
    • 1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (store bought can be salvaged with lemon juice and hot sauce)
    • 2 teaspoons Coleman’s mustard


    • 2 scallions white and some green, minced
    • 1/2 bunch chives, minced
    • Or 1 shallot, minced
    • Salt to taste
    • Fresh herbs, chopped, I like either parsley, tarragon, or more chives

Place eggs in a large pot and add cold water to cover. Put flame to high heat and boil hard for one minute. Remove pot from heat, cover, and set aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mince and mix mayonnaise with dry mustard in a small bowl, breaking apart any lumps. Add onion and salt and set aside. After 15 minutes, remove eggs to a bowl of ice-water for a few minutes. Peel eggs under running water. Allow the eggs to cool completely before slicing in half, wiping the knife occasionally to prevent sticking. Mash yolks in a large bowl and add mayonnaise mixture. Don’t mix too much, just until incorporated and fluffy. Spoon yolk mixture into egg whites and place on platter. Cover and chill. Just before serving, sprinkle with fresh herbs.


What can be said about stuffed eggs?

First of all, whoever heard of a family gathering, a picnic, or church potluck dinner without them? From my earliest memory of family dinners at my grandmother’s table on a farm in Northeast Mississippi, stuffed eggs were a favorite. I do not have a copy of her recipe, and I don’t recall it being anything particularly unusual. Probably nothing more than the yolk, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, a dash of dry mustard, and maybe pickle relish of some kind. Yard eggs were plentiful, but a sprinkling of paprika was not anything she would have had on hand. I don’t really think the recipe was that important. To me, the important part was that Mamma took the time to lovingly make them along with many other favorites for special family dinners. As a child she would let me help stuff the yolk back into the egg white. It was always a challenge to get the yellow stuffing to come out even with the egg whites. Could it be my “taste-testing” had something to do with always having a leftover egg white? But how could you “salt and pepper to taste” without taking a few good licks?

Another thing I have noticed about stuffed eggs is how they are usually all eaten. I don’t care how many stuffed eggs show up at the potluck, every deviled egg dish is taken home clean. That should tell us something! Only on one occasion can I remember having any leftovers and that was once when I tried a new recipe for stuffed eggs containing anchovies. I should have known better, but being a fan of both stuffed eggs and anchovies, I thought I would give it a try. Even I, who eat anything and everything, did not care for this combination. So I may be the only person in history with the distinction of having leftover stuffed eggs. How embarrassing is that?

Speaking of deviled egg dishes that brings up another issue. My family never had a deviled egg dish until maybe in the ‘60’s when Tupperware came out with their version. Before that the eggs were served in a pie plate and, for church suppers, covered in wax paper for the car ride. Another job I had was holding the stuffed egg plate level to keep the eggs from sliding out. Oh, how tempting to sneak one out, but the empty spot would have quickly been spotted.

My current favorite recipe came to me from my friend Beth Imes. If she sends it in, give her credit. She didn’t really give me a recipe, but told me that she adds capers to her stuffed eggs. I tried it, and, yes, it is tasty and easier than chopping a pickle. So here is my recipe with Beth’s capers.

    • 6 eggs, hard-boiled
    • 1 Tablespoon softened butter
    • 2 Tablespoon mayonnaise or more (to your liking)
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives or parsley (or both)
    • 2 teaspoon capers + 1/2 teaspoon caper juice
    • Dash of dry mustard
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice eggs. Scoop out egg yolk. Mash yolks with a fork and add remaining ingredients. Stir mixture together completely and put back into the egg whites. Garnish with paprika or small sprigs of fresh parsley. Chill.


To many who may be reading this deviled eggs are something that are associated with church picnics, bridal showers, and the occasional picnic lunch taken in a rest stop or park during a stopover on a long drive. But for me, deviled eggs represent Easter. More so than palms, crosses, Chris Owens parading through the Quarter in a ridiculously large hat, or men lining up outside Galatoire’s wearing their seersucker and white bucks for the first time since the previous September.

Every Easter that I can remember up to the one just past, those eggs that the children spent all morning long hiding and finding were, sometime after the leftover lunch had been put away and the good dishes had been washed and dried, turned into one of the most sublime uses that the egg has to offer, the deviled egg.

The children’s baskets would be collected and the eggs would be separated from the headless chocolate bunnies, the Elmer’s Gold Bricks, and the paper grass. Once this had been accomplished the eggs were quickly shelled and sliced in half, scooping out the yolks as the process went along.

The yolks would then be mixed with some Blue Plate mayonnaise, a little bit of yellow mustard, finely chopped pimiento, a tiny bit of dill pickle juice, and a good whack of Tabasco. This entire mixture would be stirred until smooth and then placed spoon by spoon back into the whites (which in fact, weren’t so white thanks to the Easter Bunny and his dying process).

The filled eggs would be placed on a dish made especially for them, a ceramic platter known as a deviled egg dish that had little indentations all round and held the slippery treats in place (I think that most of the people who got married in the South before 1980 got one of those things as a wedding present). The remaining eggs were put on a dinner plate and both platters were placed in the refrigerator to greet the napping guests when they finally started moving around after a long, post lunch snooze.

Rarely, no matter the number made, did any of these eggs make it past bedtime. Refrigerator grazers, ham sandwich makers, and kids of all ages just kind of wiped them out. Everybody loves a good egg and while there are many fine uses for them in many cuisines from all over the world, it is really hard to do much better than a well made deviled egg.

Mrs. Oliver’s Deviled Eggs

    • 18 Hard Boiled Eggs
    • 1/2 Cup Blue Plate Mayo
    • 6 T yellow Mustard
    • 4 T finely chopped and drained pimiento
    • 1 T dill pickle juice
    • A few grinds of black pepper
    • A few whacks of Tabasco to taste

Boil the eggs, halve, and pick out yolks into a bowl. Mix all ingredients and spoon back into whites (or pinks or yellows or whatever). Sprinkle with mild paprika for color. Refrigerate and watch them disappear.

This recipe came from my grandmother, Mrs. Brooks (Lois) Oliver of Bastrop, LA and probably was brought with her from Cass County, TX when she moved to Morehouse Parish with my grandfather, Brooks Oliver, in 1927. They are damn good eggs and an important part of any Oliver Family Gathering.


For holidays and family get-togethers, “egg duty” has been my responsibility. Each time I prepared the 30 egg halves on assorted trays, I prayed they would reach my sister’s house intact. Once my eldest son sat on the egg tray during the 17-mile trip; my younger son tossed a video game bag atop the eggs. I have fought dark rings around the yolks, too-soft yolks and eggs that refuse to peel! I’ve tried removing the shells at room temperature, after refrigeration, and even reheating to allow removal – none of which seems to be the right method. My husband tried bribing my niece to assume “egg duty”; she declined!

The recipe evolved from my late grandmother, Cathleen Boles, and my mother, Barbara Payne.

    • 18 large white eggs (hoping that 15 will make it without cracking)
    • 1/2 C. Mayonnaise
    • 1/4 C. Sweet pickle chips, not drained
    • 1 tsp. Sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. Salt
    • 1/4 tsp. Celery Salt
    • Paprika for garnish
    • Stuffed green olives, sliced

Boil the eggs – bring to a boil, then turn off burner and allow eggs to sit, covered, until they cool to room temperature. Peel them (if you can!) Slice into halves, removing yolks to a mixing bowl. Place whites on serving platter. Mash yolks completely then add mayonnaise (enough to moisten mixture), pickles and juice, sugar, salt and celery salt. Mix well. Place this filling into a medium zipper storage bag and cut off one corner for piping. Generously fill each egg half then sprinkle with paprika. Top with sliced olives and pimientos. Leave a few halves unadorned for the youngsters. Invest in specially designed Deviled Egg Carriers!!!


This could be it. My big chance to shine. After almost five decades of watching my crown-encrusted friends like Donna Hild Russell of Madison and my cousins Miriam and Pam wave to their adoring admirers from the pageant catwalk, I now have my big opportunity to wear a tiara. And on the campus of my alma mater no less!

Last week, I received an invitation from the Center for Southern Culture at Ole Miss to submit my best recipe and accompanying short story for deviled eggs. It would be entered in a contest that’s part of the Southern Foodways Symposium in October and the winner – get this! – will be crowned Queen (or King) of the Deviled Egg in an egg tasting and champagne coronation ceremony on the Square in Oxford. Move over Jill Conner Browne. Sweet potatoes are so yesterday. The egg is my royal destiny.

Just between us, I am a relative newcomer to the concoction of the deviled egg. It was an afterthought dish when I was growing up in Laurel, but when I married into the Delta it moved into a tradition-heavy place of prominence for every single Brandon family gathering. Whenever two or more were gathered, it seemed, the stuffed orbs appeared in all their mustard and mayonnaise splendor. And, of course, always displayed proudly on Aunt Mac’s pressed glass deviled egg dish.

I am now, to my great glee and respectful humbleness, the owner of that dish. And I know from the tips of my toes to the top of my soon-to-be-awarded rhinestone topper that she’s looking down from above guiding me in this venture. At least, I’m willing to bet my collection of 27 deviled egg plates (in various shapes, sizes, ages, colors and materials) that she’s at least wishing me a good shot at it.

I settled into the corner of our home office this past weekend and delved into the volumes of cookbooks stored on the shelves there. Nothing quite compared to the how-to lesson I got from Maxine, standing in her tiny Clarksdale kitchen one Christmas holiday weekend. Of course, she didn’t have a written recipe card to give me. But I took copious mental notes. I’ll share them as well as a couple of “fancy smancy” recipes I discovered from some so-called experts who couldn’t hold a hard-boiled yolk to Maxine’s kitchen wisdom. They suggested questionable additions such as curry spices, sweet pickles, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and other variations on the classic theme. But any southerner will tell you that if you’re craving the real thing, the perfect pop-in-your mouth side to Coca-cola marinated ham or fried turkey, none of the other city-fied versions will satisfy you.

I also got a kick out of the cookbook’s serving suggestions. Not a single one mentioned an egg plate. Girls, we all know that things like Italian parsley, lettuce, or arugula will never substitute for a plate encircled by perfectly matched oval indentions. Anything else is, well, tacky. And we all know what we think about tacky. Here’s my last hope, with well wishes from my dear, sweet Maxine.


    • 6 large, fresh eggs
    • 1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon “Sweet Crispy Pix” pickle juice
    • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
    • Dash Tabasco sauce
    • 1/2 dash of garlic powder
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Salt
    • Paprika (for garnish just before serving)

Place the eggs in a single layer in a medium saucepan and add ice cold water until it is at least 1 inch above the eggs. Add a teaspoon of salt. Set over medium heat and just before the water boils, decrease it to low so that it barely simmers. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Prepare an ice water bath in a large glass bowl. Remove the eggs from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Gently remove each egg and crack it once or twice on a hard surface, such as the side of the sink, and put it into the ice water bath for 5 to 10 minutes.

Dry the eggs on tea towels (linen, of course), peel them carefully and rinse under cool water if any bits of shell remain. Dry again. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, set the whites on an egg plate and put the yolks in a small bowl.

Use a fork to mash the yolks and mix in 1/3 cup of the mayonnaise, the mustards, pickle juice and Tabasco sauce. Season generously with several turns of black pepper and kosher salt to taste. If the mixture seems a little dry, add the remaining mayonnaise.

Fill the centers of the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture using a tablespoon for large eggs and a teaspoon for small ones. Fill in the cavity first and then carefully mound the filling using the spoon’s shape as a mold. Place an inverted cup or small glass in the center of the egg plate (where the miniature gerkins and pimento-stuffed olives
will later go), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

ALWAYS: Make a second plateful just like the first and place at the front of the refrigerator for snoopy, can’t-wait-until-dinner’s ready tasters. If not, there’ll be nothing left for the real meal. (My secret that I’ve only shared with those I love: I always boil two or three extra eggs and use the yolks so there’ll be plenty of stuffing!)

This past weekend, I tried a little experimentation of my own. To the “perfect” recipe I inherited from Maxine and that now faithfully appears at every single Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Ole Miss Rebels football tailgating affair, I humbly suggest adding: finely chopped green onion, finely chopped green olives, finely chopped shrimp and a sprinkle of dill weed. Top with a small shrimp and a twig of dill. Not bad. It’s just that nothing will ever compare to the best.

Gotta run now. Time to work on my “egg-ceptance” speech.


My mother had the most beautiful glass deviled egg plate. To me, it looked like crystal with its egg-shaped spaces around the outer edge and the flat circle in the middle that was obviously meant for carrot and celery sticks. My mother did NOT sprinkle “red stuff” on her eggs. Hers were perfectly yellow and white–pristine even.

For our eighth wedding anniversary, mom sent Jim and me our very own egg plate. It’s white with room for two dozen deviled eggs. It’s lovely, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the one she used. Jim doesn’t quite understand the need for a plate that’s only good for one thing, but he does enjoy what it holds–made just the way my mother did.

Nancy Anne’s Deviled Eggs
Start with 13 eggs (’cause at least one will mess up) that are a couple of days old so they’ll be easier to peel. Hard boil and peel the eggs. Cut each egg in half and use the tip of a butter knife to flick the yolk into a bowl, placing the empty whites in your lovely glass deviled egg plate. Use a fork to mash up the yolks. Now add a big glob of mayonnaise (start with 1/3 cup or so), a couple of squirts of yellow mustard (2 tablespoons to start) and drain off enough pickle relish juice to moisten (1 tablespoon). Add salt and pepper to taste. Mash it around some more with the fork (do not use a mixer, or heaven forbid a food processor) and add more mayo/mustard/juice until it’s the consistency of soft butter. Taste (but don’t eat too much, you don’t want your filling to be skimpy). Your filling should be vibrantly yellow, creamy with little bits of yolk still intact and exhibiting a nice little mustard tang.

Now use a teaspoon to dollop the filling into the whites, mounding it up. If you’ve made it this far with 26 whites still intact, fill the 25th for your own consumption and give the 26th empty white to the dog or that kid who doesn’t like the “yellow stuff.” It simply means your two dozen deviled eggs will be a wee bit fuller. Now mound some carrot and celery sticks in the center of the plate and you’re good to go! If you need to cover the plate with plastic wrap, stick toothpicks around the outer edge to keep the wrap from touching the filling. Oh, and in honor of Jim, set a bottle of Tabasco sauce out with the plate.


Years ago someone at my annual New Year’s party said that all Southern women should be given a deviled egg plate at birth. I could not help but take such a delightful remark to heart. I have been giving egg plates to newborn girls and as house warming gifts for years. I am working to fulfill my own notion that every household should have at least one deviled egg plate. Plates adorned with a chicken or chicks or egg motif are my favorites and matching salt and pepper shakers designed to fit on the plate itself are a definite plus. The necessity of having such a plate or indeed any deviled egg plate cannot be downplayed. As we who celebrate deviled eggs know, they disappear quickly thus leaving an empty plate on the table long before other offerings are gone; so it better be an attractive empty plate.

This is a recipe adapted from the one my mother always used. I cannot remember her actually measuring any of the ingredients. She must have gotten the recipe from her mother-in-law as her staid New England mother never used mayonnaise or cooked anything spicy for that matter. I like using the sieve instead of mashing the yolks with a fork as my mother did; it makes the filling fluffier. I added the cayenne and extra black pepper as my mother, like her own mother, was not an adventuresome cook. In fact, I do not think she even had cayenne in her spice drawer!

Halve the hardboiled and peeled eggs. Press the yolks through a medium sieve into a mixing bowl.


    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt (scant)
    • Dash of ground cayenne
    • 4 teaspoons Cider vinegar
    • 4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon mayonnaise (Hellmann’s)
    • Mix all ingredients and add
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion

Fill the egg whites and garnish with ground paprika.


If you want to make easy, delicious deviled eggs, my mother-in-law’s recipe is for you. Louise Foretich was well known for her good, down-home cooking. My family and friends have always loved her deviled eggs; and in my working years, when we had company dinners, all the employees would insist that I arrive with one of my wonderful deviled egg plates loaded with the eggs.

    • 6 boiled eggs
    • 3 T mayonnaise
    • 1 tsp mustard
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 1/8 tsp black pepper
    • salt to taste

Halve hard-cooked eggs lengthwise; remove and mash yolks with all ingredients. Refill egg whites, and place on a pretty serving dish–preferably a deviled egg plate if you are a Southern Belle. Sprinkle Paprika over all and garnish with parsley, olives or whatever you like.

P.S. Right before leaving on vacation, I e-mailed a recipe to you. I just made it according to these directions, and find that over the years I had changed it with less mayo and more mustard and vinegar. While making bigger batches, I had guessed and tasted along the way. So what I sent is not really good. Oh dear, I’m sorry.


First, the good news: your recent request inspired me to write down some thoughts on deviled eggs because they are a long time favorite of mine. Next, the bad news: the resulting text is probably 5-7 times longer than you want.

Subjects that are not covered below include how to boil, peel and smoke eggs. The discussion would be twice as long if they had included them. Over the years I have noted hundreds of discussions of how to boil eggs. They are all simplistic and avoid the many
variables such as: Altitude: methods that work in Boston will generally not work in Denver. The consistency of egg shells: some are thick and some have weak spots. The size of the eggs: small eggs cook faster than jumbos and quail eggs faster than Ostrich eggs.

Good fresh eggs were very seasonal as late as 1900, when eggs were plentiful in late spring but were scarce and expensive in the late fall and winter. Boiled eggs that that had been stuffed with lightly seasoned egg yoke mixed with chopped cooked ham
or bacon were common, and the modern deviled eggs existed, but were not common. Chicken and egg production, refrigeration and transportation all improved rapidly until the beginning of World War II. By the end of that war, the modern, separate chicken and egg factories had been developed.

I remember that eggs were cheap after the end of WW II. Deviled eggs were very common at parties, group dinners and picnics. The egg yokes were always mixed with salt, black pepper, mustard powder, mayonnaise, and sweet pickle relish or chopped pickles. After stuffing, the tops were always sprinkled with sweet paprika. The distinction between stuffed eggs and deviled eggs was that the latter had more black pepper and mustard powder. Some people probably put a little powered cayenne in them. When the deviled eggs were to go on a picnic, they were placed together in pairs so they looked like a whole egg and then wrapped in wax paper or after 1952 in plastic wrap. Before cling wrap, they were tied with string or twist-tie. This destroyed any pretty surface on the eggs, but made them easy to transport in a cooler. The preceding opinions were formed in Kansas, Arizona and Texas.

During the early 1960’s, I was recently married and looked in the major cookbooks of the time to find a recipe for deviled eggs. There were far too many options, such as using melted butter, dressing, etc., instead of mayonnaise or prepared mustard, catsup, etc., instead of mustard powder, and cheese, olives, etc., instead of pickle relish.

Moreover, quantities of ingredients were not given. With some effort we developed our new recipe so it matched the flavor we remembered. This recipe is certainly very close to the earlier recipes. Most of the time we still use this recipe today and when deviled
eggs are served by other people, the taste is usually very similar. The only concession to the gourmet trend was freshly ground pepper and a little cayenne. A few people stuff eggs using sour cream, smoked salmon and capers, which taste good, but are not deviled eggs.

By the late 1970’s, I had a smoker and had started using more chile peppers in my cooking. This led to experiments with smoked, boiled eggs and eventually to very deviled eggs, using the recipe below. I only use this recipe occasionally with friends who like spice-hot foods.

Make 6 jumbo eggs – boiled, Smoking optional. Slice the eggs long-ways into 2 symmetric halves. Remove yolks carefully and put them in a bowl. Mash the 6 yolks slightly with a fork and mix with:

    • 1/4 tsp table salt (or up to _ tsp coarse sea salt)
    • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper (or up to _ tsp)
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (or _ tsp minced fresh garlic)
    • 1/4 tsp chili powder (or 1/8 tsp cayenne)
    • 1 tsp dry mustard (or more to taste)
    • 4 T mayonnaise, as needed to moisten.
    • 2 chipotle in adobo – remove seeds – mince
    • 0-2 T red onion- chopped or pickle relish (Optional – not needed if chipotle used.)

Start with the minimums on ingredients the first time. Mix the above ingredients with the yolks. Taste mix. If it needs more acidity add a little lime juice. If it is too bland, increase chili, pepper or mustard. If it is too spicy, add sweet pickle relish. Fill the egg whites with the seasoned yolks. Sprinkle with Sweet Hungarian Paprika for garnish.
Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. If eggs are too spicy-hot, then next time: cut back on chili powder and / or replace chipotle with Sweet Pickle Relish or chopped Pimentos or Red Bell Peppers.

Jennifer Angle

I remember the simple joy as a child growing up in Dallas. I would stumble into the kitchen after playing with my two brothers, only to find that on that heavenly platter cut to fit the curves of the egg lay a Mama’s own deviled eggs. Her recipe included a liberal amount of Miracle whip, yella mustard, pickle relish, and a generous topping of paprika. Mama always used to tell us the story of her Home Economics Teacher at the University of Texas, Miss Harris, who said to put paprika on absolutely everything.

Now, the plate that holds the deviled eggs is almost as important as the eggs themselves. Mama used to say that every southern woman has a deviled egg plate. Hers was given to her by her mother, Evelyn. It has 16 places for eggs and it’s yellow with a chicken in the middle. I ate off that plate as a child, and my daughter, Evelyn, has eaten those delicious deviled eggs off of it as well. My cousin, Evelyn, my mother’s sister’s daughter (to make it more confusing), has spent many a holiday at our house eating deviled eggs as well.

In fact, on those Easter holidays when we would all get together my Mama (every southern woman also calls her mother mama) would do a special treat of soaking the white part of the egg in beet juice which would turn the eggs a special Easter-y purplish-pink and when you added the yellow filling it made colors that my mind will always associate with that holiday.

Deviled eggs are just something that I was raised on, my Mama was raised on, and my girls were raised on too. Being a Texas girl I was always told the story of how my grandmother Evelyn would take her deviled eggs on trips from the oil country of Oklahoma to the oil fields of East Texas because the eggs would keep in the car; a car that had a air conditioner that they would put a block of ice in so it spit water at you as you drove. I hope that one day I’ll inherit that old deviled egg platter so that my girls can have Mama’s deviled eggs for their children on it.

A southern cook doesn’t use exact proportions- she merely uses what she thinks should go in with a lot of taste testing—to get it just like Mama’s.

    • 12 Hard boiled eggs—Mama’s only needs 8 but the few extra are for the children and daddies that just can’t wait for the eggs to be deviled.
    • A Heap of Miracle Whip—it is a little sweeter than mayo.
    • A spoonful or two of yella mustard
    • A pretty good bit of pickle relish and an extra teaspoon of sweet pickle juice.
    • A Longhorn dusting of Paprika (in honor of sweet Miss Harris)

Easter Twist
Soak egg whites in a can of beet juice for about five minutes or so. Fill with deviled egg yolks and watch the children devour them!

Beth Edelstein

On the seventh day, just before the well-deserved rest, God said, “Let there be deviled eggs.” And there were. For as long as there have been chickens, there have been eggs. Since folks have learned to make fire and boil water, there have been boiled eggs. When did the first deviled eggs appear? Perhaps cave people made them with sorrel leaves and mashed berries.

We join our ancestors when we eat this delicacy. We eat them at picnics, church suppers, fancy cocktail parties and school cafeterias. We eat them plain with the egg yolks mixed with just a dab of mustard and fancy with everything from truffles to caviar. We plop the egg yolk mixture into the waiting white and carefully pipe the filling into its home. We serve them on paper plates and on those specially crafted plates with indentions to tenderly cradle each treasured half. We eat them with no serving dish at all, simply fingers and a waiting mouth. We eat them like peanuts, not counting how many until they are all gone. They are one of the first items to disappear from any buffet. Some families, I’m not saying which ones, have been known to have nose-perching deviled egg contests.

    • A dozen eggs, three days old or older at room temperature
    • Cold water
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons mustard, your choice: Dijon, yellow, anything
    • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
    • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
    • 1 tablespoon chopped pickled relish

Place eggs in pot of cold water and bring to a hard boil. Boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat. Let stand until you can comfortably put your hands into the water, about twenty minutes. Peel eggs, saving the shells for compost. Cut eggs in half the long way and separate whites from the yolks. Put the whites on a plate and the yolks into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. If more liquid is needed, add a little more mayonnaise or a bit of juice from the pickles. Put yolk mixture into the whites. We like to use a cookie scoop at our house. Some folks get real fancy and use a piping bag and different tips. Suit yourself. The important thing is to make a deviled egg that will match its surroundings whether a wedding or a picnic. Remember when you eat those eggs, you are connecting to a long line of ancestors who ate theirs with sorrel leaves and mashed berries. They did, don’t you think?


As a preacher’s kid, I’ve seen and sampled my share of dinner-on-the-grounds, church picnics, potluck suppers, and funeral fare. So I speak with a measure of authority concerning what-to-take to ecclesiastical culinary events.

Nothing is more satisfying than to see the bountiful serving tables groaning with an array of food just before the blessing is pronounced. And nothing is more humiliating than to find MY dish virtually untouched after the meal is over. (Our church kitchen committee has been known to remove contents of an unpopular dish so the cook won’t be embarrassed.)

One surefire way to avoid such a dilemma is to take stuffed eggs (“deviled” eggs seem somewhat out of place among the pious) to the meal. However, a few rules regarding stuffed eggs are invaluable.

Stuffed eggs must look tempting. Sprigs of parsley, slices of olives, or a dash of paprika add eye appeal. Presentation must look tantalizing. Don’t display the eggs on any old plate. Use an EGG plate. My assortment includes an antique cranberry glass one passed down from my grandmother, Mama Too. Husband Don brought home a wooden one from Haiti when he helped build a Methodist School there. Another favorite egg plate, English bone china, which belonged to a prominent Water Valley matron. I bought it at a yard sale. Stuffed eggs must be tasty. Hand-me-down recipes don’t have specific amounts—just ingredients. Taste adjustments are a must!

    • 6 eggs
    • 2 Tbs. Hellmann’s mayonnaise (homemade is preferred)
    • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1/8 cup or more chopped sweet pickles (I use homemade)
    • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • Dash of Tabasco sauce (if desired to “hot up” deviled eggs)
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Cover pan of eggs with cold salted water about an inch above eggs. (Salt helps shells peel easily.) Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Stir eggs a couple of times so yolks will be centered in eggs. (If an egg cracks while boiling, add a little vinegar to seal the crack.) Pour off hot water and fill pan of eggs with cold water. Let cool. Peel eggs under running water so that egg whites will not tear. Half eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks. Mash with fork. Blend in above ingredients. Fill egg whites. Refrigerate. For variation add crumbled bacon or chopped shrimp or ham to mixture.

Nothing is more affirming than to hear someone ask, “Did Lucia bring HER eggs?”

Other Project Interviews



The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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