Joan hated deviled eggs.
She didn’t mind eating them. In fact, she found them quite tasty. Nice and soft, sweet, creamy with a hint of paprika and a slight bite…
It was the preparation that she hated.
All the work of boiling the egg to perfection – not too long, it couldn’t be too hard, and not too short, it couldn’t be runny – was a nuisance. Peeling it, such that it was a perfect little oval, no nicks or scratches, was damn near impossible. Then to carefully halve the white, scoop out the yolk without getting any white in it, then mash the yolk with mayonnaise and mustard and salt and pepper and just the tiniest bit of hot sauce – not too much, but balancing the amount was so difficult with different sizes of yolks and different numbers of eggs prepared. If it wasn’t four dozen eggs, her hot sauce measurement just went right out the window.
Then you had to mash mash mash, and Joan couldn’t help but think of the yolk as the potential baby chicken, then as a potential baby. Mashing a little thing, completely innocent and unaware and non-existent, but still a potential. Now it was no potential other than an amuse-bouche.
Then it was scooped into the piping bag and squeezed it out onto the waiting whites, filling them before mounding the goo up just a little – not too much, but not skimpy, either. Making sure the little ridges were perfectly intact from the piping bag’s star tip.
Finally, sprinkling the paprika. It was her least favourite part, because it was the one that could go the most wrong. Too little, and you’d need to dust a little more, but that meant ever greater risk of too much, when you’d have just a clump of red, and the thing would be ruined.
Deviled eggs were such a fine balance of madness that she despised any time someone asked for them. “But your deviled eggs are just divine,” Joan’s friends would tell her when she complained. “You’re so good. You should open a business.” A business of just deviled eggs? she thought. Sounds like hell.
But Maria had asked, begged for some. A party for her husband’s work. Joan was invited, too, of course. Not Joan’s boyfriend, because that wouldn’t reflect well on Maria’s husband, but if Joan really wanted, then she, Maria, would supply some fake wedding rings.
Joan couldn’t refuse her friend. And so she took the five cartons of eggs – a few were always lost in the making – filled the pot, and turned the knob to get it boiling.