There are so many times during the day that I think about my mother simply because of her rules about tempting fate and and assurances for summoning good juju:
Always exit by the same door that you enter. (This maxim can be extremely inconvenient in a building with multiple ports of access or egress, but Mom’s voice is in my head.)
Never jinx a trip to the airport by saying, as you get on the freeway, “The traffic doesn’t seem too bad.” (The Jewish term is "Kinehora," meaning: Don't invoke the evil eye.)
If you’re eating something fattening, like pretzels or chocolate mints, have three pieces (our family’s “lucky number”—anything like a hospital room or a bank account had to have a 3 in it).
She also had a deeply held belief that the chalaza of an egg must be removed or the resulting dish would be tough.
The chalaza (pronounced sha-lay-za) is the white stringy thing clinging to a raw yolk, actually anchoring it inside the shell. It’s what makes peeling hard-cooked eggs almost impossible when they're fresh—the chalaza is as difficult to penetrate as the plastic case around a CD—which is why I usually have a carton aging in the refrigerator in case I want to make deviled eggs.
I never challenged my mother to a taste test—could her palate really discern the difference in an omelet where the chalaza had not been removed? I was able to dismiss most maternal wisdom when it didn’t fit into my plans (such as, “If I were you, I’d buy the skirt in black, not white, because black won't have to be dry-cleaned all the time,” to which the appropriate response was, “You’re not me”). But I cannot proceed with a recipe unless I have performed the chalaza surgery.
My current favorite hors d’oeuvre is an update on a classic: deviled eggs made with truffle oil, which turns something mundane into something luxurious. Of course, they are chalaza-less.
Mom, you win.
Aimee Lee Ball is a journalist whose work is at www.AimeeLeeBall.com.
Truffled Deviled Eggs
6 large eggs
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. plain Greek yogurt
2 t. truffle oil
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. white horseradish
1/2 t. white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 t. kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to a boil, then cover, remove from heat, and let stand 12 minutes.
Drain and place in a bowl of ice water to cool.
Crack shells and peel under cold running water.
Slice eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks.
Mash yolks with remaining ingredients.
Fill egg whites and garnish with paprika.