Egg salad simply screams of ladies’ luncheons and soda fountain sandwiches. Pimento and cheese once was similarly associated, but now thanks to the same Southern machismo ethic that has established eating a white bread Vidalia onion sandwich dribbling Duke’s mayo over the kitchen sink virtually a rite of passage, P&C has transcended effete associations and is even found served in micro-breweries (with unassuming yet authoritative amber larger and parsnip chips). Still and all, the South is nothing if not traditional, and while egg salad might certainly be served on pumpernickel at some happy hour buffet in a west Florida leather bar, by far for the most part it perseveres as a staple at occasions with a heavy distaff attendance such as christenings, weddings and those inevitable funerals.
Basic egg salad is just chopped, cooked—usually boiled—eggs blended with a sauce or emulsion to make a spread, but as with most simple recipes, variations abound and additions are discussed, debated and occasionally disputed. For instance, olives seem to be a traditional addition throughout the nation, but most recipes from the South tend to include black olives whereas above the Mason-Dixon Line green olives with pim(i)ento stuffing is the general rule. Woody Allen trivialized egg salad in his 1966 feature film debut as the object of Phil Moskowitz’s search for the stolen recipe of the Grand Exalted High Majah of Raspur, giving heft to my argument that when it comes to egg salad people can work themselves into a steaming froth over seemingly the most insignificant details, which puts this sandwich spread right up there with art, law and religion.
Yes, use boiled eggs; though I’m certain some misguided unbalanced individuals actually do make egg salad with scrambled eggs, or horror of horrors compounded mangled omelets or even worse God help us please not quiche. I mash mine with a wide-tined fork and add good mayonnaise to texture. Adjust the amount to your own tastes; me, I like it a little on the dry/chunky side as opposed to the creamy/smooth. Of course I use black olives, usually canned pitted jumbo, but Kalamata give it a nice salty kick and the olive oil is a nice touch. Finely-chopped celery and green onion give egg salad a better texture, a dash of pepper vinegar or lemon juice gives it a little bite, and I like mine peppery, served on rye toast with a light Pilsner.