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October 7, 2022

At Agi’s Counter in Brooklyn, 40 orders of dill- and pickle-packed “Green Devils” are delivered to tables at every sitting. The deviled eggs at Agi’s, one of BA’s 50 best restaurants of 2022, have become so popular that chef Jeremy Salamon put them on both the daytime and dinner menus. It’s the same story across the country at the Anchovy Bar, which opened in San Francisco late last year. Half of all guests order the deviled egg starter, which is topped with anchovies, Caesar dressing, breadcrumbs, a mountain of Parmesan cheese, bottarga, and chives. “At this point, deviled eggs have arrived and they’re not going anywhere,” says Anchovy Bar’s chef-owner Stuart Brioza.

It’s tempting to chalk the increase of deviled eggs on restaurant menus up to just another hot girl food having its moment in the sun. Indeed, deviled eggs, first made popular in the 1900s, share an elusive je nais se quoi with tinned fish, oysters, and pickles—the kinds of once-sexless foods that have been embraced by a new generation intent on romanticizing simplicity and proving a certain appreciation for laid-back dining. But where hot girl foods lean low-key and unfussy, the deviled eggs of today are luxurious, inventive, and dare I say it: sexy.

At Tuome in New York, you’ll find a textural masterpiece: hollowed-out egg whites that have been covered in panko breadcrumbs, fried until crisp, refilled with their creamy yolks, and topped with a garlic chili sauce. At Manhattan’s Katana Kitten, cloudlike yolks are whipped with Kewpie mayonnaise and miso and then dolloped with red caviar marinated in soy and yuzu. If you’re lucky enough to attend the pizza pop-up JunkMail Pizza in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you might come face-to-face with Buffalo deviled eggs garnished with intricate, crunchy shards of chicken skin.

While deviled eggs are having a moment right now, there’s nothing new about them. The ones we eat today supposedly evolved from an ancient Roman appetizer. At fancy meals, wealthy guests dined on boiled eggs served with spicy sauces. During the 13th century, cooks living in the region that’s now Spain would pound cooked yolks with cilantro, pepper, onion juice, and a fermented fish sauce before stuffing the mixture back into hollowed-out whites and fastening them together with a small stick. Throughout the 1400s, stuffed egg recipes featuring everything from raisins and cheese to herbs or powdered sugar were commonly found in medieval cookbooks.

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