My Mema was a hard-working grandmother with very little time on her hands. But that didn’t stop her from teaching me important life skills. From Mema, I learned how to bargain shop. I learned which fruits were ripe for picking and how to part my hair. Most importantly, I learned how to cook eggs — and, along with that, I learned the importance of patience and persistence.
Text by Sarah Vice
A Mess of Eggs
I was six years old the first time I attempted to make eggs. Mema set out two bowls and a carton of eggs on the kitchen counter. Then, she handed me an egg and let me watch her crack one on the edge of her bowl. I tried to mimic her movements, but ended up with half the egg on my shoes and the other half in the bowl — shell included.
I impatiently pulled her bowl down to see what her eggs looked like on the inside, and ended up spilling more egg on my shoes. She just laughed. She had the most memorable wheezing laugh I had ever heard. Later, I realized with delight that she and I shared the same laugh.
Don’t Give Up
Mema helped me clean up my mess and took the remaining eggs over to a skillet on the stove. Glass top ovens weren’t common yet, so the skillet sat on a black cage with a blue flame underneath. The flame hissed and clicked, reminding me not to get too close without permission.
Mema whisked the eggs together in one bowl before pouring them into the heavily buttered skillet. Her hands moved so quickly that I was convinced I’d never be as good as her. She said someday, with practice, I would be just as fast. It reminded me of my lack of patience, a trait she assured me came from my grandad. But really it came from her.
Cooking and Life Require Patience
She pulled up a chair near the stove for me to reach the skillet. I watched her move a spatula back and forth through the eggs. This broke them up and scrambled them. She handed the spatula to me, then added more butter and some salt. A few times, the yokes spilled over onto the eye, but Mema never took the spatula away from me.
I ended up making half-burnt (but still somehow delicious) eggs that we shared. After that, she let me help her make eggs very morning that I stayed with her. She never got upset with me, no matter how many messes I made or how long it took to finish cooking. Memories of making eggs with her remind me that sometimes love is shown through expressions of kindness and patience. And I also can cook a mean scrambled egg to this day, thanks to Mema.
I eat a lot of deviled eggs during the spring — especially around Easter. This all started with a few cracked eggs that just didn’t look right after I dyed them. The colors missed the thin white lines, and my eggs looked like they had stretch marks. Don’t get me wrong: stretch marks are a beautiful part of the human body. But on an Easter egg? It’s just wrong. Thankfully, it’s easy to turn Easter eggs to deviled eggs, which are delicious!
Text by Sarah Vice
Once my friends and I have divvied up the eggs to dye, we set up the dipping cups. We buy generic egg-dying kits with those little tablets that dissolve in vinegar. Sometimes, the water’s a different color than the tablet, once they dissolve.
The most challenging part of making deviled eggs? Removing the shell. Learning how to use cracked Easter eggs is a life-saving lifehack. Their shells are already broken. If I’m honest, when I’m getting the dye ready, sometimes I hope that more eggs will be broken than not. I wouldn’t admit this to my friends, but when we dye eggs together, I’m not super careful when removing them from the pot. Yes, that’s partly because I’m impatient. But it’s also partly because I want some to be cracked.
To Dye or To Eat
I always claim the broken eggs so my friends can dye as many smooth-shelled eggs as they want. While the others finish up their eggs, I don’t hesitate to get out the mayonnaise, dill relish, and sweet relish. This is a personal recipe, because for the longest time I didn’t know deviled eggs involved mustard and paprika. But I like my version, so I’ve stuck to it. If you’re interested in branching out, check out these 20 variations on the traditional recipe. From blue crab to Sriracha, exciting ingredients make for heavenly deviled eggs. You can even make them in an instant pot!
Not for the Hunt
I don’t even attempt to put the yolk mix back into the boiled whites when I’m done. I never liked that part to begin with, so when I make my own, it’s just the yoke. By Easter Sunday, I’ve usually consumed more eggs than I’ve dyed. It’s all worth it, though. Besides, plastic eggs are better for decoration anyways. They don’t spoil when left out. Real eggs are meant to be cherished and eaten.
When you’re in need of comfort, there’s nothing better than delicious Southern soul food. And sometimes we need comfort from life-altering events like natural disasters. For my town, April 27, 2011 was one of those times.
Text by Sarah Vice
Most Alabamians know by now what happened on that date. A large EF4 tornado ripped through half of Alabama. But what you may not know is how the communities pulled together directly after the storm. A neighborhood beside my high school was flattened, but thankfully no lives were lost there. In the days after the tragedy, I witnessed how people show love through food, and how a meal can heal in the most necessary of ways.
The National Guard had brought in aluminum bags of prepared foods. Residents also donated all the canned goods they could offer. These weren’t exactly the kinds of comfort foods that we look forward to, but no one was complaining.
Volunteer Servers and Chefs
Within a few days, however, the local restaurants that remained unaffected were able to pull together enough volunteer employees to reopen. But they weren’t just reopening for business. They were reopening to provide meals to those who needed them the most.
These restaurant owners were members of this town. They lived with the people affected by the tornado and were set on doing as much as they could to help. The employees and owners worked hard making hamburgers, biscuits, BBQ sandwiches, key lime pies, tacos, and so much more. They piled the food into trucks to drive to a community center. There, they welcomed all to a warm, free meal.
People were visibly in tears. They ate hungrily. For many, it was the first full, hot meal they’d had in almost a week. But the restaurants didn’t stop at serving these delicious dishes. They also opened up fundraisers in unaffected nearby towns in hopes of bringing more supplies to the victims.
Neighbors who still had a home joined in. They baked several meals a day and brought the food to the community center. For weeks to come, their food, kindness, and generosity nourished my small town. It’s in these moments that we grow to appreciate the little things like comfort foods and the bigger things, like our communities, that become our support systems.