Courtesy of Jesse Wu
Deviled eggs competed against each other for a variety of awards.
The Seventh Annual Deviled Egg Pageant took place at the Single Carrot Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 16 to egg-cellent success. “Man, I’m all egged out;” “Take those nasty farts outside;” and “And the award for most Seussian goes to...” are just some quotes overheard from attendees of the unusual event.
When I first heard about the event, I imagined the little edible beauties being paraded down a runway, hoping for their big break in the prestigious field of deviled egg modeling.
What I found when I arrived was even cooler: a community gathering of both familiar and unfamiliar faces, bringing people together over a quintessential dinner party hors d’oeuvre.
Taking note of both the sign saying “Don’t make yourself sick!” and the lady in the horned egg costume, I prepared for an eggy adventure.
Martine Richards, a Remington resident and founding organizer of the event, explained the origins of the pageant.
“You know how when you go to a party, you always want to eat far more than your share of the appetizers? By having every item on the menu be deviled eggs, everyone can eat to their heart’s content,” Richards said.
When the event first went public on Facebook, there were more than 1200 people who marked “Interested,” which was more than 20 times the number that attended the first event seven years ago. Within one day, the tickets were sold out.
The Annual Deviled Egg Pageant started out as an event between a few friends living in Remington. Every subsequent year, more and more people started showing up to showcase their creativity, culinary skill or just to gorge themselves on eggs. As the pageant gained traction, the venue changed.
“One year, we hosted it at Druid Hill Park, but the weather may not cooperate outside, and rowhouses are too small, so we needed an actual venue this year,” Richards said. “I live right around the corner, and I like living near small businesses that I like patronizing, so we decided for all proceeds to support the Single Carrot.”
She admitted that it isn’t much, but the gesture and the money are not trivial, and it is her way of supporting her community.
However, Richards wasn’t just a judge and an organizer.
She also crafted her own varieties of deviled eggs for the judges’ exhibition. One was a sushi egg, with hints of wasabi, soy and mayo. Another was a classic deviled egg, topped with smoked and sweet paprika as well as a slightly acidic wood sorrel leaf.
When I asked her what characteristics she thinks a great deviled egg should have, she said the most important things to her taste are adding enough salt and making sure the egg doesn’t simply taste like mayo.
Judging was based upon three categories: Meatless, Meaty and Not-an-Egg. Some of the Not-an-Eggs were fantastic and provided a good break from the richness of other actual eggs.
The Bánh Bèo (Vietnamese pork and shrimp rice cake), for instance, was nice and light, with bright acidity from rice vinegar brightening up the briny shrimp and fatty pork.
My personal favorite and the Best Egg in Show winner was the Umi no Tamago, or egg of the sea. The eggs themselves had been marinated in soy and lapsang souchong, a variety of Chinese smoked tea, to give them a beautiful light brown exterior.
They were filled with smoked trout and topped with Maryland crab meat, tobiko and a thin slice of scallion. The artwork was more than enough to draw my attention, and the flavor kept it.
Another contestant worth mentioning was the Sunday Brunch Eggs Benedict. It featured a smoked mushroom topped with a shallot hollandaise. Washing that down with a shot of mimosa concluded an excellent brunch experience lasting all of 20 seconds.
I would say that the talent of some home cooks in this neighborhood is quite astonishing. I hope to see it happen again next year, perhaps with even more publicity and more attendees in a bigger venue.