Friday, July 2, 2010


Funny how food evokes certain memories or thoughts. When I see mayonnaise, I often can't help but think of Lou Gossett, Jr. in "Officer and a Gentleman" barking "Mayo-Nnaise" at the selfish Zack Mayo, Richard Gere's character.

I love how the word rolls off Gossett's tongue, especially the emphasis on the second part, conveying irritation and contempt with just the tiniest dash of affection. Great movie.

But seriously folks, what's in mayonnaise? I had only a vague idea until last weekend when a minor crisis forced my wife and I to find out. We were having family over for dinner and suddenly realized that the mayonnaise I'd bought for the potato salad contained soy, a no-no for one of our guests. I considered running to health food store to buy a non-soy variety when it hit my wife: why not try to make our own?

My wife had seen it done old school. The mother of an old friend would painstakingly drip oil into an egg and furiously whisk, ever so slowly creating the emulsion that is mayonnaise. Luckily, God created food processors, one of which we have.

We pulled out our trusty Mark Bittman "How to Cook Everything" and found a recipe. I will respect the copyright, but it's incredibly simply: an egg, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and dry mustard. You put the egg in the food processor, turn it on and pour the oil in as thin a stream as possible.

We tried olive oil the first time, but the taste of the oil was overpowering, even a little bitter. We threw it out (heck, it's just an egg and some oil) and tried again with canola oil. This was fantastic: light, fluffy and tasty. It took all of 10 minutes, the best mayonnaise I've ever had. See below:

So kick Big Food in the butt and make your own mayonnaise. It's easy, easy, easy if you a have a food processor. Even more important, experiment. Find out what you like, not what the food industry trains you to like.

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