When I was a kid, I hated mayonnaise -- or at least thought that I did. It looked gross, and that was reason enough for me to avoid the stuff for nearly twenty years.
But once I started falling in love with food -- coincidentally around the same time I was legally allowed to imbibe -- I slowly began to eliminate the phrase "hold the mayo" from my vernacular. I wanted to break down my preconceived palate, and build a new one based on experience rather than fear. And in so doing, I learned that mayonnaise is one of the most delicious dressings ever conceived, one whose tangy flavor and creamy texture can liven up damn near anything. It's become a crucial element in my kitchen -- much to the dismay of my girlfriend, who also developed an early aversion to mayo, and has yet to get over it...
This has become a point of contention. At a recent Sunday brunch at Table 6, I wanted her to try a bite of my eggs Benedict -- but because it was topped with hollandaise (a cousin of mayo), she adamantly refused to, and so missed on the opportunity to taste something wonderful. Having confronted my own culinary fears, I've racked my brain for a way to open my girlfriend's mind to mayonnaise. And the other night, I thought of a possible solution: If I made my own mayo from scratch, she could see that it consists of ingredients she would eat otherwise. And if I then put the mayo to good use -- in tuna salad, for example -- she might see what she'd been missing.
I knew that the experiment would work better if she were relaxed, so I ran out and picked up a sixer of Avery Brewing's White Rascal -- one of the few beers she actually likes. On my way home, I realized I'd forgotten to grab a lemon for the mayo -- and was cursing the lack of a good grocery store in Five Points as I started making the depressing bike ride to Safeway. But then I remembered that the Curtis Park Deli had just opened conveniently close to my house. I stopped there, and found that not only did the deli have a lemon, but it also had a seedling selection of other quality items, most of which were locally sourced. I bought some bread for sandwiches and beet greens for a simple salad, and rushed back home.
Mayonnaise, like so many other things we pay people to create, is really easy to make. As for tuna salad, it's like a blank canvas: The possibilities are endless. I made my favorite preparation (it's below), and served it to my girlfriend along with a glass of the Belgian white ale. Much to my surprise, she loved the sandwich but had apparently changed her mind about the beer. One reluctant sip and she recoiled in disgust -- which was fine, because it meant more for me. The beer was a good, balanced accompaniment to the dish; its fruity esters complimented the tangy and spicy tuna salad.
All in all, this was a successful first step to convincing my girlfriend that mayonnaise isn't something to fear. I doubt she's completely cured, but these things take time, and I'm a patient guy -- especially in the kitchen.
Here's the recipe:
1 egg 1/2 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of sugar a dash of cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil
1. Separate egg yolk from the white. 2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yolk, salt, sugar and pepper. 3. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl. 4. Whisk half of juice and vinegar mixture into yolk mixture. 5. Drizzle in a few drops of oil, whisk vigorously until it becomes light in color and begins to thicken. 6. Continue whisking while slowly adding half of the oil. 7. Add the rest of the juice and vinegar mixture and continue whisking, slowly adding the remaining oil until fully incorporated.
Tuna Salad Sandwich
2 cans of tuna, drained 3 to 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 teaspoon Sriracha salt and pepper 1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced butter good bread
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1. Combine tuna, mayonnaise, curry powder and Sriracha sauce in a bowl and mix thoroughly until desired consistency. 2. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 3. Spread on toasted buttered bread and top with radishes.