On the Deviled Egg

Photo: dobryak839/Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to Isaiah 14:12-15, Lucifer was cast out of Heaven because he asked for a promotion and Heaven, regrettably, is non-union. Rather than ascend to God’s highest high, he was cast to the lowest low where he industriously took charge of Hell. I suppose it was there where Satan, in an attempt to prove his God-like worthiness, created what you, by the end of this piece, will be convinced is the greatest party snack known to mankind.

The elegant egg-half with a smushy little tummy. The non-seaworthy vessel shipping yolk and mayonnaise to your mouth. The deviled egg. Yes! Oh, yes. The deviled egg is the best party snack known to mankind. Better than chips and dip, better than bacon-wrapped dates, better than a canapé, better than pretzels. I don’t know if this is shocking to you or simply reads as fact, but, if the former, I invite you to consider it for a moment in order to realize your error. Have you? Okay, I will give you another moment. Have you? Okay.

I’m bringing this to your attention now because we are on the precipice of indoor-party season. Gone are the barbeques, the pool parties, the secret keggers in the woods, the beach blanket bingos. Gone are the days that seem to last forever, the nights when the sun hangs overhead at least until you are out of work, for the love of god. No, no. No longer. We are entering the darkness; we are entering the indoor time. We are entering the time when deviled eggs thrive.

(If you’re wondering why deviled eggs aren’t a good anytime food and why they should be relegated to indoors-only, the answer is they are, in fact, a good anytime food. I would eat them at a barbeque, I would eat them on the beach, I would eat them at a kegger, I would eat them with a peach. But the hot sun is not kind to them. And they would get very sandy on the beach. They are good anywhere, but best indoors.)

How do I know that deviled eggs are the best party food? This fact has revealed itself to me through hosting several parties over the past decade. They are an alluring attraction when only less-substantial snacks are provided; they are an appetizing distraction when the party is dinner-focused. Though not all guests will be drawn to the deviled egg initially (one guest usually has to take the bold step in eating the snack first, probably because our culture is too demure, too prudish, and the deviled egg is [at least perceived as] somewhat decadent), by mid-party the deviled eggs are a hit.

I have laid out my argument that deviled eggs are the best party food in five segments. If you’re ready, they are as follows:

1. Deviled Eggs Taste the Best

The simplest bit of evidence we have in deviled eggs’ favor is that they taste the best. (Particularly if you put some wasabi in the yolk.) Here is an incomplete list of party foods the deviled egg tastes better than: chips, carrots, guacamole (!), flatbread, pretzels.

2. Deviled Eggs Might Help Prevent Hangovers; The Science Isn’t There Yet But You Have to Admit That We Can’t Rule Out the Possibility

If you Google “do eggs help hangovers” the evidence is clear: According to some people online, eggs do help hangovers. “Eggs are a perfect hangover cure,” says this slideshow about eggs. “The high level of cysteine, an amino acid, in eggs helps breakdown acetaldehyde, the root cause of hangovers.” A health.howstuffworks.com article says, “… eggs do also contain large amounts of cysteine, the substance that breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde in the liver’s easily depleted glutathione.” An update below what used to be a BBC video titled “Why eggs are a good way of stopping a hangover” says: “Update: Sorry, we’ve temporarily removed the video above while we double-check some of the facts in our original description of the biochemistry.” Interesting.

I thought it would be best to ask someone who wasn’t a website, so I found what I believe to be a relevant study — “Behavioral and Biochemical Effects of N-Acetylcysteine in Zebrafish Acutely Exposed to Ethanol” — and reached out to one of its authors, Angelo Piato of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. The study, which concluded with the need for more studies, investigated the effects of N-acetylcysteine (a derivative of cysteine used to prevent acetaminophen overdose, among other things) on ethanol, which is alcohol.

As we already learned, eggs contain an amount of cysteine. As I mentioned, the zebrafish study was inconclusive, but I was just wondering, anyway — would eating deviled eggs while drinking help prevent hangovers? “Interesting question,” Piato said.

Thank you.

He continued, “The first point, however, would be whether consuming NAC or cysteine itself before and/or while drinking prevents hangovers. This question has not been scientifically answered yet, we simply do not have enough evidence.” He said the gold standard would be a randomized clinical trial addressing the question with different dosages.

“If we had positive evidence indicating the efficacy of NAC/cysteine in this context,” Piato told me, “we could then extrapolate to deviled eggs by calculating the amount of cysteine. An egg contains approximately 150 mg of cysteine (mainly in the yolks). Most clinical trials with NAC for a variety of conditions used dose ranges from 1,2 to 3,6 g, which is roughly equivalent to 0,9 to 2,7 g of cysteine, or 6 to 18 eggs — which is quite a lot for someone to ingest plus alcohol.”

The short answer, he said, is that eating deviled eggs while drinking is not very likely to have a meaningful effect on your hangover. Hm. “But to know for sure, a randomized clinical trial with deviled eggs vs. placebo (what would that be?) would have to be carried out.”

So … it’s possible!

3. Chefs Aren’t Always Right

It’s important to remember, when considering whether deviled eggs are the best party food, that chefs — even famous chefs — aren’t always right. For example, when I asked what is, in his opinion, the best party snack, chef Matt Danzer of Nolita’s beloved Thai hot spot Uncle Boons said, “Nam Prik Noom (Spicy Green Chili Relish) and Crispy Pork Rinds.” See? “Can’t go wrong with that and and ice cold beer,” he added. He is wrong, as you know, though that does sound very good and admittedly I would like to have it right now.

When asked the same question, chef Daniel Rose of Le CouCou, the lavish and romantic Soho restaurant that I would love to visit one day on a date with Domhnall Gleeson, reportedly said, “caviar.” His PR elaborated: “He loves that it elevates any occasion, there’s no cooking necessary, and you can eat/serve it right out of the tin.” Yes, yes. Of course this is also wrong, which again proves my point about chefs not always being right, which strengthens my core argument.

When asked the same question, heavily Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud told me, “When I have friends over at home, it’s very easy to entertain with caviar. Of course, it’s great on deviled eggs (particularly small ones like quail eggs), but I also love it on top of warm, steamed potatoes, toast with seaweed butter as well as the classic blinis with crème fraîche.”

Hmm. Very close, Daniel Boulud — but not close enough.

4. Deviled Eggs Are Customizable for the Event

You can make them footballs, or spiders, or Christmas, or owls.

5. Deviled Eggs Are Easy and Impressive

For how impressive deviled eggs are, they require a stunningly small amount of effort. Bacon-wrapped dates are on a similar level of impressive, I’d say, but for those you have to find dates (?) and make bacon, which is messy, and then you have to tie them together with a toothpick, which is difficult. To make a deviled egg you only need stuff you already have — eggs, mayo, spices — and the deviled egg filling is mostly provided by the egg already. They are a hearty, homemade snack, more substantial than a chip, less crumby than some sort of crostini. And if your guests don’t eat all of them before the night is over, you have to finish them off before you go to bed, because probably they won’t be too good in the morning.

In closing, the deviled egg is the best party snack.


The Best Party Food Is the Deviled Egg