deviled egg 07: Maryland Crab Soup Egg, or What To Do With Yourself While Your Husband’s Father Is D
In memory of Ed Pinder
In technical terms, Maryland Crab Soup could be described as a sort of beef broth-and-roasted- tomato-based gumbo containing steamed blue crab (usually claw meat and whole claws) and whichever of the following you have on hand: green beans, lima beans, corn, and celery. Don’t forget the hefty dose of Old Bay seasoning. In nostalgic terms, Maryland Crab Soup is the hometown comfort food available at every local diner, served in a chipped ceramic soup cup, two packets of Saltines resting on the saucer beside it. And if a Marylander ever invites you to a bull roast, be prepared to enjoy your pit beef sandwich with ample horseradish sauce, drink Natty Boh straight from the pitcher, and eat your Maryland Crab Soup out of a styrofoam cup, beaming red crab claws poking their way towards the heavens beckoning you to crack them open for that extra bit of sweet, delicious treasure they hold inside.
When I met my husband about four years ago, his father, Ed, had already been living with cancer for three years. I quickly grew to know Ed as a person of uncommonly great generosity and a nearly unflappable spirit. He was quick with a hug and a joke, seemed thoroughly entertained by my goofy ideas for food and craft competitions, and even donated seed money for a fundraiser event I started. He was known for his enthusiastic softball coaching, bringing gifts and smiles to brighten the days of his many medical providers, and organizing elaborate cornhole tournaments at family gatherings.
When all medical options had been exhausted, Ed chose to spend his last month at home with his family. I will not sugarcoat what it is like to watch someone die painfully and know there is minimal you can do to abate their pain or the pain of their family. Feelings of hope and resilience were choked and swallowed whole by their scaley enemies: anxiety and helplessness. Like the silhouette of a meal in a snake’s belly, seven years worth of “get well” cards, handmade paper cranes, stuffed animals, and photos of last ballgames and last vacations surrounded his deathbed.
Shortly before he became bedridden, Ed gave me a gift. My husband came home from a visit with him and said, “Dad has specially requested that you make him some deviled eggs with crab on them”. When every phone call or text you receive might realistically be terrible news, an absurdly-involved culinary distraction is quite welcome. (Note: my father-in-law did not request that it be absurdly involved - I took that liberty on my own, but maybe he knew that). Merely placing crab meat atop an ordinary deviled egg would not do. But an egg interpretation of the beloved Maryland comfort soup, yes! In fact, why not make a big pot of the soup while I’m at it? And why buy the pre-picked meat when I can buy the crabs and shell them myself? In fact, why buy the corn niblets frozen when I can shuck the ears, grill them, and decob the niblets? Why buy canned tomatoes when I can roast them? For replication of this recipe in the future, I would absolutely take 100% of the possible shortcuts and that is how I have written the recipe that follows. But this time around, that wasn’t the point. Ed gave me the gift of feeling helpful during a time of helplessness. He gave me the reminder that good leaders call upon others to employ their skills, not merely as a means of production, but to make them feel part of the team.
p.s. Upon delivery, he ate three of them.
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, sliced,
yolks set aside for filling
12 hard-boiled egg yolks
3 T. mayo
1 T. cocktail sauce
1 t. Old Bay seasoning
¼ c. cooked green beans, cut into 1" lengths
¼ c. corn niblets, grilled or sauteed
¼ c. cooked blue crab claw meat
¼ c. cooked lump crab meat
parsley, roughly chopped
Old Bay to sprinkle
Combine the yolks, mayo, cocktail sauce, and Old Bay in a food processor. Adjust to desired consistency with more mayo if needed. Use a spatula to fold in the green beans pieces, corn, and claw meat. This mixture will be lumpy, just like the soup. Fill each egg half, top with additional lump crab meat and sprinkle with Old Bay and chopped parsely.
Make a pot of soup while you're at it.