Food Blogger: Caroline Campion of Devil & Egg
The journalist imparts her insider knowledge of food, eating, and the kitchen rules no mom can live without
Despite the title of her popular food blog, deviled eggs aren't the only things lining the countertops of Caroline Campion’s New Jersey kitchen. The successful journalist, who has written for the likes of Glamour, GQ, and Saveur, also cooks up a mean berry pie, Indian summer soup, and weeknight dinner feast (to which she devotes an entire category on her blog). We talked to the mother of Belle, 8, and Connor, 5, about her Belgian roots, how to dine out with young kids, and her theory on why everyone always (always!) ends up in the kitchen. —Lucie Alig
I love your blog’s subtitle: “Because Everyone Always Ends Up in the Kitchen.” What’s the story there?
I have found that no matter how fancy the party, or how small the kitchen, guests will undoubtedly end up by the stove. If I think back on all the homes I’ve spent time in as a child—from the kitchen where my friend’s Argentinian grandmother gave me my first spoonful of homemade dulce de leche, to my own grandfather’s kitchen table where he served Oscar Mayer hot dogs on toasted Pepperidge Farm buns—the first thing I remember is the kitchen. When I had a BBQ party the other night, people knew that they’d get first dibs on deviled eggs and ribs if they lurked by my cutting board in the kitchen. Where else would you possibly want to be?
Was cooking a big part of your own childhood?
Without a doubt. My Belgian grandmother—who I’m named after—is my food icon. From her tiny apartment kitchen (which included a single counter and a loud parakeet), she’d cook rabbit stews, raspberry jam from scratch, ice creams, coq au vin, and big pots of steamed mussels. She was one of those very gifted home cooks, and I learned a lot just from sitting at the table and watching her.
Can you talk about your career trajectory?
I had magazine jobs at Good Housekeeping, GQ, and Glamour before landing my dream job as a senior editor at Saveur. I knew I’d found the perfect job when I was asked, on my first day, to sample bacon for a story on the best artisanal bacons in America. For the rest of the day, an endless stream of crisp pork paraded from the kitchen to my desk. Bliss.
Besides daily and required eating (I gained 26 pounds while I was there!), I got to edit stories about Alabama church picnics, scones and clotted cream in the English Cotswolds, and Sichuan street food. I even traveled to New Zealand to report on the food scene in the breathtakingly beautiful sub-tropical region of the North Island. When I left Saveur (to go back to Glamour as the books editor), I really missed hearing about other people’s food stories, and writing my own. So I started Devil & Egg.
What’s in your fridge at this very moment?
Right now it’s a motley crew of eggs, a slightly wilted bunch of kale (leftover from my CSA pick-up), coffee yogurt, pickles, goat cheese, a depleted wedge of pecorino, bacon, Jersey peaches, a pitcher of sun tea, Leinenkugel’s summer shandy (a beer mixed with lemonade from Minnesota where my in-laws live—delicious!), almond milk, and a hundred jars of vinaigrettes and sauces that I’m testing for my cookbook.
Any tips for eating out at restaurants with kids?
When eating out, make sure your kids are in the right frame of mind. If your six year old is tired or cranky, it will make the meal torturous for everyone. In that case, it’s better to make grilled cheese sandwiches, stay home, and watch a movie. I’d also say that you don’t need to go to a fancy place for them to get accustomed to eating out. When we lived in New York, we’d take the kids to try a lot of different things (Banh Mi Saigon in the east village, pizza in Staten Island, Burek in the Bronx), but in very informal settings—basically dives. This way they became comfortable with the ritual of eating out and trying new things.
We are at a moment when so many different theories and pedagogies are circulating about food and what to eat—dieting, slow foods, organic food, gluten-free, etc. How do you know what to believe, and what to incorporate into your daily life?
I am pretty resistant to food trends of any kind. I’ve seen so many come and go, so I live by a few fairly straightforward yet flexible rules: Make your own food whenever possible; don’t eat too much white flour or white sugar (although if I’m in a patisserie in Belgium or France, that belief goes out the window), eat slowly, and season well.