What is half of a deviled egg?
May 5, 2011 2:52 PM Subscribe
What is half of a deviled egg? This is a serious question.
About five years ago, I went to lunch with my friend Nunk. Part of Nunk's lunch was a modest quantity of deviled egg. I asked Nunk if I could have a deviled egg. He said I could have half a deviled egg. So I picked up and ate what I took him to mean, which is one half of an egg's worth of deviled egg. And thus began The Argument.
This is an argument that has now spanned years, continents, and all forms of human communication in which an argument can take place. It has collaterally involved dozens and dozens of friends, some of whom now staunchly refuse to even speak of eggs in our presence.
Nunk's argument is that deviling one egg yields two deviled eggs. Deviled eggs are the product of a recipe that uses eggs as one of several ingredients, and the result is quantified independently of the number of eggs that go into it. Each resultant discrete unit (or "cup" as we now shorthand them) is correctly individually referred to as "a deviled egg".
For example, if you were to say "bring me one of those deviled eggs," you would not expect to be given two "cups". Thus, deviling an egg yields two deviled eggs. You accurately refer to one "cup" as a deviled egg.
My argument is that one deviled egg is one egg, deviled. As a poached egg is an egg, poached, or a sliced apple is an apple, sliced, it seems inarguable that when you devil an egg, you get a deviled egg. The only rational interpretation of Nunk's offer of "half a deviled egg" would be one "cup". I.e. half an egg's worth.
For example, if you were to say, "I'm going to make a deviled egg, do you want one?" this would imply you're offering one egg, or two "cups". Thus, deviling an egg yields one deviled egg. You accurately refer to one "cup" as a deviled egg half.
Recipe books, recipe websites, labeling on commercially-sold deviled eggs, and mountains of anecdotally-supported arguments about what "everyone says" have all variously supported both sides of the argument. And yet, one of us has to be authoritatively right, right?