Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mayonnaise Bildungsroman

You know who likes condiments? Dr. Theresa! So I got her about 25 condiments from around the world for her birthday. I gave them to her a month early or so, because I was tired of hiding condiments all around the house and also I was like, we should use these before they expire! Maybe under a bed is not the best spot for mayonnaise! Here, pictured, are just a few of the condiments. Maybe you don't think olives are condiments. Maybe I agree! But even if you subtract the olives, there were still about 25 condiments in the birthday package. Just yesterday we realized how many of the condiments we haven't even tried yet... lots! (And that's why I put some yuzu mayonnaise on a ham sandwich yesterday... not the best combo, though going in having no idea what a "yuzu" was - I just took a chance and squirted it on there - I was pleasantly surprised by the bright orange flavor. But not on a ham sandwich. But I ate it. Maybe it would be good in chicken salad...? Don't listen to me! I'm an idiot!) Of the condiments we have tried, I feel comfortable telling you the top four. I'm not sure I have the order right. Nor am I sure Dr. Theresa would agree. 4. Farmer's Daughter Salty Dog Marmalade. That is a fine marmalade! Let me tell you something about April McGreger, maker of the Farmer's Daughter Salty Dog Marmalade. I met her at a Southern Foodways Symposium several years ago, when they were handing out biscuits with her fig preserves on them. Ladies and gentlemen, not since my childhood had I tasted fig preserves SO EXACTLY LIKE my grandmother's fig preserves! I ordered jars for everyone in my family for Christmas, that's how good they were, and how close to home. I'm not sure Ms. McGreger has ever made exactly those fig preserves again. The last batch I saw for sale had bourbon in them, I think. My grandmother wouldn't have done that! The point is, April McGreger and her staff make different stuff every season, based on whatever is fresh and available in abundance. I NEVER (never?) advertise places to buy things on this "blog" but I am going to "link" to Farmer's Daughter. Get one of everything! The Salty Dog Marmalade has grapefruit and juniper and sea salt in it, and I rank it only at "4" because I guess - like ordinary marmalade - there are just a few truly proper things to smear it on. But I could be wrong! Maybe my imagination is insufficient. Anyway, it's amazing marmalade. We also use the Farmer's Daughter Sweet Potato/Habanero hot sauce a lot. 3. "Cereal Terra" (that's the brand) "ketchup piccante." I am afraid it has ruined us for other ketchups. Like, yesterday we broke out an "artisanal ketchup" (I guess) from the birthday batch to try on our hash browns and Dr. Theresa remarked "This is like tomato paste" when compared with the spicy flavor of Cereal Terra Ketchup Piccante (and yes, there are two c's in piccante, because it's Italian, I guess). So Dr. Theresa had to drown the inferior ketchup with a layer of ketchup piccante. I told you she likes condiments! She might rank the Cereal Terra Ketchup Piccante higher on this list. 2. Edmond Fallot Walnut Dijon Mustard. It's from, you know, France! And it has walnuts in it. And it goes on and in everything, which contributes to its high ranking. And it tastes so good you can eat a spoonful of it out of the jar. 1. Duke's Mayonnaise. For much of my life I "hated" mayonnaise. Let's analyze me! Was it because my mom would never put mayonnaise in our school lunches? She was afraid it would spoil before lunchtime! Nor, if we were going to the beach or on a picnic or anything like that (did we ever go on a picnic?), would anything with mayonnaise be included, for similar reasons. So perhaps from a young age I associated mayonnaise with danger. Ha ha ha! Or is it that I thought it was a food for "country people" (of which I was one)? My grandparents liked a spoonful of mayonnaise on a slice of fresh tomato or (as Tom Franklin and I, with our nearly identical backgrounds, have reminisced) a soft canned pear-half, with some cheese grated over it. Maybe I aspired to be too sophisticated for such rustic fare! Or maybe I didn't like mayonnaise. Maybe I wanted to be a big shot! But all through life I had to admit that mayonnaise was the only thing for a classic BLT, and maybe that is where I allowed my secret (even to me) craving for mayonnaise to express itself! Maybe I started to crack some time in the 90s. Is that when every restaurant started serving supposed "aioli"? And I was like, "Hey, this is mayonnaise!" I have heard many "food people" talk about Duke's mayonnaise. I have heard John Currence wax rhapsodically about the "old Duke's mayonnaise factory." And when I ate dinner at the James Beard House in New York City, they gave out packets of Duke's mayonnaise in the gift baskets we received upon departure. Still I resisted mayonnaise. Not anymore! We have already used a whole big jar of Duke's mayonnaise and started another. That's right, I bought it in bulk. In bulk!