Thursday, September 8, 2011

Like Mayonnaise from Heaven

I had a rather eye-opening culinary experience today that I thought I would share with my devoted readers and any of you who may have randomly found my blog.  I can't say I was horrified by the experience, but I was definitely surprised.  I know that my knowledge of food may sometimes surpass that of the average person on the street, yet I am still shocked by how little awareness people have of what they're eating on a daily basis.

I am currently enrolled in a Public Speaking class.  Our next assigned speech is a "demonstration speech," better known as a how-to speech.  We went around the room, and each student stated what he or she would like to demonstrate for this speech.  The answers showed the diversity of the class.  One girl will demonstrate how to do a quick weave, another is performing a Jewish dance.  One boy will show us either how to tie a bowtie or play the guitar.  When it was my turn to speak, I said, "I'd like to show how to make mayonnaise."  I was almost embarrassed by the simplicity of my subject.  The instructor had said that all demonstrations had to be college-level, so no PBJs or how to tie a shoe.  Does making a simple sauce like mayonnaise count as college-level?

I got my answer almost as soon as the words had left my mouth.  In unison, half of my class asked, with a tone of sheer astonishment, "You can MAKE mayonnaise?"  All I could think was, "What did you think--that it fell from the sky already in the jar?"  Granted, most of the people in my class are barely out of high school.  But none of them knew that mayonnaise is easily made.  The woman next to me asked what all goes in to mayonnaise.  "Not much, really."  At this point, I paused to stretch, and she pressed further.  "Well, are you going to tell me?"  I responded with the full list of ingredients--egg yolk, salt, lemon juice or vinegar, oil.  She was stunned into silence (which is saying something for her).

The woman had given me an idea though.  We have to use an "attention device" at the beginning of our speech to get the attention of the audience.  Maybe, for my attention device, I'll read the ingredient label from a jar of Miracle Whip.  Yes, that's technically salad dressing, but that's what most people consider mayonnaise.  That ingredient list would certainly get their attention. 

With the shock and surprise created by my statement, I think I really will demonstrate how to make mayonnaise.  It will be a test run for when I get my own cooking show!  I'll have to start now.  LA and I will be swimming in mayonnaise by the time I have to give the speech.  But we'll have some delicious sandwiches.

So you can know the joy of homemade mayonnaise too, here you go:

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together yolk, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until combined well. Add about 1/4 cup oil drop by drop, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in lemon juice, then add remaining 1/2 cup oil in a very slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. If at any time it appears that oil is not being incorporated, stop adding oil and whisk mixture vigorously until smooth, then continue adding oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill, surface covered with plastic wrap, until ready to use.

Cooks' notes:

• The egg yolk in this recipe is not cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area.