The Buckeyes have crossed the line. They've ruined deviled eggs. The Ohio State Fair plans to offer an abomination of "dessert" deviled eggs. I guess growing up in a place without access to Granny's Sweet Potato Pie or Aunt Darla Jean's 'Nanner Pudding will make you do crazy things to an egg.
In the days when Southerners had slim pick'ins, we still had chickens.
While we may have had to bury the silver in the backyard, watch our cities smolder, and fight for better educational opportunities, we could always count on the hens.
Other areas of the country say they also "make" deviled eggs, but Southerners "create" devilishly good eggs. We also perfected fried chicken and big pots of chicken and dumplings because, at times, it was all we had. Practice makes perfect, indeed.
Abiding by our motto of "don't waste a thing," we pounced on the egg and claimed deviled eggs as "Southern," just as we claimed fried dough as "Krispy Kreme" and fizzy carbonation as "Coca-Cola."
So why is The Ohio State Fair fussing with "our" deviled egg? Do we really need chocolate eggs? Listen! I don't hear anyone crying for a s'mores egg. Would anyone be able to digest a lemon meringue or cotton candy egg? Pick yourself up off the floor, Mable; it's all true.
The State Fair "chefs" have blended egg yolks with powdered sugar, heavy cream cheese, vanilla, granulated sugar, marshmallows, and cocoa powder, then topped them with a flourish of candy sprinkles. Has anyone told them about a cupcake?
Other areas of the country think they're making deviled eggs by cutting boiled eggs in half and filling them with an "emulsified whipped condiment." By contrast, Southern deviled eggs are cooked to a bubbly perfection, plunged into an ice bath so the shell slips right off, sliced on the exact geometrical axis to allow perfect balance, then filled with a precise mixture of Dukes, relish (Wickles for the rebels), salt, pepper, and other family secret combinations of authentic sauces and spices, approved by Sister Southern Starshine herself. We've turned the egg into a splendid gift to the world and rightfully claim it as “ours.”
Our grandparents had to rely on the combination of "frugality with beauty," or in other words, "cheap yet fancy." Deviled eggs fit this description, as does the Jell-O salad mold, tuna casserole, and the rival team's homecoming queen.
The correct response from your child when you say, "Darlin', run grab my deviled egg plate," should be, "Yes, ma'am, which one?" Proper Southern households own an array of platters. My various egg plates hold 24, 12, or 6 halves. One has a floral design, one is glass, and the other is cut crystal, therefore preparing me for any sort of deviled egg situation that may arise. Forgive me, for I covet my cousin's egg platter shaped like a hen.
Conversely, I'm pretty sure the Ohio sweet versions are served on (gasp) a paper towel.
Reports of the chocolate egg looking like — oh, I can't say it, but it's gross, make them all sound unappetizing. Thinking how the Mama Hen experienced momentary discomfort, only to have her egg filled with syrupy sweet goo, is sad.
Yes, state fairs tend to be a bit crazy and experimental with their food offerings, but things tested at the Fair have a way of seeping into society and becoming "normal." Remember when the Tattooed Lady was a novelty?
Out of all the transplanted newcomers to our area, I've always maintained the common sense, and friendly folks from Ohio are my favorites, so it surprises me that they'd do such a thing as to tamper with perfection. Then again, the Buckeyes I know, were wise enough to have relocated to the South, so we must give them kudos for knowing when to exit. If you have new acquaintances from Ohio, be sure to welcome them with genuine hospitality, but keep an eye on them if they volunteer to bring "dessert" to your next party.
This story first appeared in Lagniappe News, Mobile, Alabama.