Crabmeat Gives Traditional Deviled Eggs a Caribbean Flip
The butterfly-shaped island of Guadeloupe is one of my favorite spots in the Caribbean region. I have always loved its intriguing mixture of French culture filtered through the Caribbean and Africa. For many years I used to journey there annually for the Fête des Cuinsinières in August. I would always stay with my friend, Maryse Pochot, in Pointe-à-Pître, the capital. One obligatory stop on every trip was a wander through the market where I'd pick up logs of fresh cacao, plump packets of vanilla beans tied with string, and an array of spices from the vendors' tables covered with bright madras fabrics. There was always a secondary stop at a nearby café with a water view for a rum drink or two and some nibbles. Then, we'd head back to Maryse's home on a hill overlooking the town. There, she'd head into the kitchen to stow our purchases and call her friends to invite them over for later in the evening. And I'd head to my bedroom to add yet another set of things to my invariably overloaded luggage.
Maryse is not a chef, but an excellent home cook with a mastery of some of the culinary tricks of Guadeloupe, and she loves to entertain. So, we'd spend hours in her kitchen talking about all manner of things culinary, and I learned some of the tricks of Guadeloupe's Creole cooking from her. I learned to put a bit of minced garlic into my French vinaigrette, how to make a delicious simple syrup with a hint of tropical fruit, and how to make crabmeat-stuffed deviled eggs.
Ironically, this is a dish that I prepare and serve, but cannot indulge in because of a shellfish allergy. However, it's a winner and whenever I bring the crabmeat-stuffed deviled eggs to an event, they disappear. While Maryse uses fresh crabmeat, the eggs can also be prepared with canned crab with little loss of taste (or so I'm told!). I've equally heard that one bite transports all who taste them to the island that created the proverb "Mie vaut vente peté ku mangé gate!" (It is better for your stomach to burst than to waste good food!)
This essay is part of the series "Diaspora Dining: Foods of the African Diaspora." In this monthly column with essays and recipes by Jessica B. Harris, Ph.D., we explore the rich culinary traditions of the African diaspora. Harris is a culinary historian and the author of 13 books related to the African diaspora, including Vintage Postcards from the African World (University Press of Mississippi), My Soul Looks Back (Scribner) and High on the Hog (Bloomsbury USA), on which the Netflix documentary series High on the Hog is based. She is the 2020 recipient of the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award. For more from Harris on EatingWell, see Migration Meals: How African American Food Transformed the Taste of America and her Juneteenth Celebration Menu. Follow her on Instagram @drjessicabharris.