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History of the Deviled Egg - Why do we call them that?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard of or eaten deviled eggs. And, if you’re like me, you absolutely love the taste of deviled eggs. (That's why I have even made a website about them!) But, what you may not know is the history behind deviled eggs. Well, I thought it would be fun to discuss the history of the term “deviled egg” for the curious and scholarly.

The origin of deviled eggs can't be pinned down to any one specific person, date or place. It is a culinary amalgamation of history and taste. The actual concept of deviled eggs begins with Ancient Rome. Spicy stuffed eggs were known in 13th century Andalusia. The name is an 18th century invention.

According to many historic cookbooks, the practice of boiling eggs, removing the yolks, combining the yolks with spices (such as mustard and cayenne pepper) and then refilling the shells with that mixture was common by the end of the 16th century and was the "norm" by the 17th century.

But what does the term "deviled" actually mean? The word “deviled” first appeared in print in 1786 and was used to describe highly seasoned fried or boiled dishes. By the 1800's, the term "deviled" evolved and was often used as a culinary term to describe fiery hot spiced dishes or condiments. The use of the word was presumably adopted due to the symbolism of the devil and the excessive heat of, well, you know where. In the 19th century, the word deviled continued to be used to describe hot seasonings, more specifically cayenne or mustard, and again brought with it the connotation of that "hot spot down under"—something hot and spicy.

In modern language, however, the word deviled has a borader meaning and is typically defined as a food that is dark, rich, chocolate, spicily piquant or stimulating item and contains heavy seasoning. The term is deviled is used to describe eggs, crab, cakes, and many other dishes.

So, as you can see, the term "deviled" in the context of cooking has been in use for hundreds of years. Now that we’ve had a brief discussion of this term, try out my great deviled egg recipes!