In the landscape of southern cooking – and eating – there may be no more divisive ingredient than mayonnaise. Feuding families split over which brand they prefer: Kraft, Hellman’s, Blue Plate or my personal favorite, Duke’s. And believe it or not, there are even those who not only don’t like mayonnaise, they admit that even the thought of it makes their duodenum cramp a bit.
True Southerners would consider those folks the politically incorrect “c” word – crazy. (And being ever so polite would never actually say this to their face.) This is likened to not enjoying a warm bowl of creamy grits, homemade hushpuppies, or worse yet, turning your nose (and your tongue) up at pit-roasted, hardwood smoked pork barbeque. Sacrilege.
Considering myself to be a non-judgmental type person I will admit that I too, find it hard to believe that someone would not like all the delicious eats that include mayonnaise in their ingredient list. First off there’s potato salad, then there’s the BLT sandwich, deviled eggs, pimento cheese, and yes, even ranch dressing.
When presented with a “non-mayo-er” situation an uneasy feeling of disbelief sweeps over me. Something is wrong here and I must ascertain the answer ! Like a therapist searching for the clues of life-long anguish, I pester the non-mayo-er, pleading with them, “but why don’t you like it?” There must be something sinister lurking in your past, way back there, behind the pickled jalapeños and the expired yogurt, that slammed the door on all delights deemed, nay doomed, mayonnaise-y in your refrigerator of life.
When I say that my own husband is one of these non-mayo-ers, you may be surprised. Believe me, he will be surprised to read that I’ve spilt the beans regarding his little aversion in the blogosphere. But I am not here to judge or defend. Actually I am here to state that I love mayonnaise and all that it contributes to my spring and summer table.
Apologies to Paula Deen, but I won’t be “slathering my corn with mayonnaise” or recreating my own Mother’s beloved congealed salad recipes (most of which contain mayo) verbatim on South by Southeast. However, I will show how simple it is to make homemade mayonnaise, a superior condiment to any jarred brand, in my opinion. And offer recipes (with step-by-step how to) for some delish sides like old-fashioned potato salad and new favorites like Madras chicken salad sliders.
That being said I do buy and use Duke’s Mayonnaise. This is my “family mayo” and no other brand graced the threshold of my parent’s kitchen, ever. Even though my mother is very frugal, no off brand mayo for her either, only Dukes would do. And heaven forbid, she would never allow the “whip” (you know what this is!) into a grocery cart much less onto a tomato sandwich!
What makes this specific brand so good? To me, it’s because I’ve grown accustomed to Duke’s – the clean flavor with just a subtle tang of acidy vinegar kick, I suppose. And honestly, I know what to expect and I appreciate that. Consistency is an undervalued commodity.
So, do you have a favorite mayonnaise? Or other condiment that you cannot live without? What makes it special? Throw it at me (but be nice, please). I would love to hear all about it!