My kid love it and he gobbles it up. On hamburgers, pasta, bread. You name it, he slaps it on and laps it up. But first, what is it and how did it come about?
Mayonnaise is a thick, creamy sauce or dressing that is made of oil, egg yolks, lemon juice or vinegar, and seasonings. It’s not the same as salad dressing, which doesn’t contain egg yolks and is generally sweeter than mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise is an emulsion, which is a mixture of two liquids that normally can’t be combined. Combining oil and water is the classic example. Emulsifying is done by slowly adding one ingredient to another while simultaneously mixing rapidly. This disperses and suspends tiny droplets of one liquid through another.
While this blistering debate over the merits of mayonnaise reached its boiling point only in recent decades, controversy has haunted the egg-based sauce from the very beginning. However, originally the disagreement was not about whether the condiment was good or bad, but rather who could claim bragging rights—France or Spain—for first spreading mayo’s gelatinous gospel.
One origin story, repeated in countless secondary sources, holds that the condiment was born in 1756 after French forces under the command of Duke de Richelieu laid siege to Port Mahon, on the Mediterranean island of Minorca, now a part of Spain, in the first European battle of the Seven Years’ War. The Duke’s chef, upon finding the island lacked the cream he needed for a righteous victory sauce, invented an egg and oil dressing dubbed mahonnaise for its place of birth. (Another version claims the chef learned the recipe from island residents.)
This creation tale came under assault a couple of generations later from a French gastronome who sniffed that Port Mahon was not exactly known for its haute cuisine. He felt Gallic provenance was more likely, and that the sauce might originally have been called bayonnaise after Bayonne, a town famous across Europe for its succulent hams. Other advocates of French authorship suggested the name came from manier, meaning “to handle,” or moyeu, an old French word for yolk. By the 1920s, the Spanish were lashing back: a prominent Madrid chef published a pamphlet calling on his countrymen to reject the phony francophone term mayonnaise in favor of salsa mahonesa.
With most of us staying at home, time for a homemade recipe to help you make it at home.
Basic: Using a blender or a food processor, blend 1 large pasteurised egg with 1medium clove garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and a large pinch salt until smooth. With the machine running, drizzle in 1 cup vegetable oil in a thin stream until a thick sauce forms.
Herb: Add 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, parsley, dill or tarragon to the Basic recipe before blending in oil.
Mustard: Make the Basic recipe, adding 1 tablespoon of mustard before blending in the oil.
Extra-Garlic: Make the Basic with 2 or 3 cloves of garlic rather than 1.
Horseradish: After blending the Basic, add preserved horseradish 1 tablespoon at a time until desired taste is reached.
Chilli-Lime: Replace the lemon juice in the Basic recipe with 1 tablespoon lime juice and add 1 tablespoon chilli sauce; add more chilli and lime, if desired.
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