Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mayo Wars


Your response was either ‘yuck’ or ‘yum’. I don’t know anyone ambivalent about mayo. I love the stuff and have been known to eat a scoop-full straight from the jar. The people that love it are seriously devoted to one brand or another. My friend Tom likes Dukes - yellow top, my friend Jayme swears by regular Kraft although she has been making rumblings about switching to the olive oil variety. I’m a traditionalist, I ride in the Hellman’s car. I know this seemingly useless information because people like to talk about their preferred mayonnaise and it’s superiority.

Mayonnaise lovers have an acute disdain for those who like Miracle Whip. They like to talk about ‘those people’ while pontificating about their brand. If you happen to be talking to someone who likes a different brand of mayo than yours, you can be certain you have a brother in arms when it comes to mutual sentiments about those Whip eaters. If a sandwich spread war broke out you’d band together to fight them, unified in self-righteous indignation.

But I have a confession, Jim is in The Whip camp. This is equal to me being a Capulet and Jim a Montague. It just isn’t done, and if it is, it clearly has tragic results. It’s embarrassing when my other mayo lover friends open our fridge to get a beverage and say ‘What is THIS?’ I turn a blind eye to it and hope the other condiments don’t catch what it has. To me, it is the I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter of mayonnaises. White Jello with a bad after taste. If you are near a jar, open it up, give it a shake, watch it jiggle.

I can ignore Jim’s fetish most of the time except when he gets careless and his inner Ohioan can hide no more. He makes this dish called banana salad. It contains: Miracle Whip, sugar, bananas, milk and food coloring. I dared to ask him ‘What color is it?’ The reply, ‘ Depends on the holiday.’ I’m not making this up, I’ve seen it. And it’s not nice to make fun of people either; apparently it’s a regional delicacy. Oh and he relishes eating it - smirking, making noises, staring right at me the whole time knowing I’m squirming, as if he had just plucked a dog turd out of the yard and tossed it his mouth. Now the reason Jim doesn’t like mayo is because as a kid some cruise staffer told him a bowl of mayo was banana pudding, so you can imagine his shock and horror when he dug in. But that just makes his love of that banana salad thing more baffling.

I have heard homemade mayo is totally different than anything we purchase in the grocery store. I know making your own mayo sounds very Martha Stewart on a tear to complicate your life but I looked up Julia Child’s recipe today and it takes almost as much time to make as getting that ridiculous plastic seal off of the jar. And, yes, it is different. I’ll see what Jim thinks when he gets home.

Cod Cakes with Tartar Sauce - Makes 8 patties

1 1/2 lbs. cod

2 eggs - lightly beaten

2 celery ribs - chopped finely

1 shallot - chopped finely

1/2 cup panko

1 tablespoon Old Bay

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1/4-1/2 teaspoon each dried dill and thyme, or fresh if you have it

Saute celery and shallot in olive oil until just translucent, set aside to cool. Cut the cod into large chunks, pulse in a food processor until flaky but not mutilated. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the eggs to the cod and fold in celery and shallot mixture. Add cod mixture into dry ingredients. Thoroughly mix and shape into 8 patties, place on wax paper and covered in fridge until you are ready for them. Pan sear them in olive oil about 2 minutes per side until they have a decent brown crust. Finish in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve with tartar sauce.

Mayonnaise - adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking - makes about 1 cup

2 egg yolks at room temperature

1 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice at room temperature

Place the eggs in a blender, turn on low and start to stream in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Turn up the speed to medium, as Julia says ‘for whipping cream’ and continue to stream in oil, add in lemon juice. You’ll know when it’s done, it will have the consistency of mayonnaise. The whole blending process shouldn’t take but a minute, minute and a half.

I used my homemade mayo with this tartar sauce recipe from


  1. Yum indeed. The capers in the tartar sauce were decadent.

  2. You forgot about the peanuts on the banana salad. They take it over the top, like the capers in the tartar sauce!

  3. cannot wait to try this out!