“Do you know what Greek yogurt is?”
“Okay. Does Greek yogurt have chunks in it?”
“Oh. [pause] I think I ate bad yogurt.”
A real conversation with my younger brother, Cory. I think this is all you need in order to understand why I was his personal chef in Junior High. We would come home from school,
turn on the tv, do our homework, and I would whip up a snack. Favorites were blue box macaroni and cheese, canned chili with cheese and chips, peanut butter and jelly toast, or if we had enough allowance money in our pockets, a stuffed-crust pizza. We didn’t exactly enjoy culinary wonders, but we could fend for ourselves in the two and a half hours between school letting out and Mom arriving home from work.
One day after school, Cory wanted deviled eggs. I knew how to boil eggs, and I knew that deviled eggs were egg yolks mashed up with relish and probably some other stuff. I called my Auntie Ann to ask her what else to put in them. She rattled off, “mayonnaise, mustard, relish”. Once the eggs were boiled and cooled, I mashed up all the ingredients in a bowl and carefully spooned the mixture back into the egg whites, but they didn’t look quite right. I remembered always seeing something red sprinkled on deviled eggs so I took out the only red spice I knew: ground cayenne pepper.
I loved anything spicy in Junior High, and someone had told me to sprinkle cayenne pepper on foods. I quickly learned the wonders of cayenne pepper on breakfast eggs. Naturally, I thought this was the classic deviled egg topper. After scarfing down three deviled eggs, Cory whooped, and said through a sniffle, “these are good, but they’re spicy!” When Mom came home from work that evening, Cory regaled her with tales of my spicy eggs. She laughed, opened the spice cabinet, and introduced me to a different red spice called paprika.
I didn’t eat deviled eggs as a child because I was far too picky. So when I made them for Cory I had no idea whether or not that red spice added any actual spiciness. The next time I would taste a deviled egg would be in culinary school, and that would be my first inkling that deviled eggs could be made with ingredients other than mayonnaise, mustard and relish. It would also be my first time actually enjoying a deviled egg.