Pity poor William Kelly III, whose conception of mayonnaise is limited to the pale gelatin available in vacuum-sealed jars at the supermarket. At that, he casts his suspicious gaze with due cause. But that mayonnaise is a bastardization. If you want to know what real mayonnaise tastes like—nay, feels like—you have to exercise the conservative virtues of self-reliance and individual initiative. You have to make it yourself.
First, crack a raw egg into a bowl and let it come to room temperature. A half hour is plenty. You need to do this because cold eggs don’t emulsify. Is there a risk of foodborne illness here? Absolutely. But you can either rely on the nanny state to save you from yourself with its laws about pasteurization, or you can rely on the brain that God gave you. The usual disease vector is from condensation picking up cooties from the outside of the egg. If you open the egg while it’s cold and throw away the shell, that takes care of the problem, almost always. Assess your risks, and live your life accordingly as you see fit.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
In a food processor, combine the egg with a half-teaspoon of salt, a half-teaspoon of dry mustard, the juice of half a lemon, and a quarter cup of olive oil. Don’t be an elitist: use the olive oil for cooking. Particles of extra virgin olive oil get torn up in a food processor, which amplifies its bitterness.
The next part is key. With the food processor running, add a cup of olive oil, slowly. Drizzle in the oil at a rate just high enough to form a thin bead. Exercise low time preference and delay gratification. Your investment of time now will pay off later in the form of delicious mayonnaise. If you get impatient and dump in the oil, even if it looks like it’s emulsifying pretty well in there, the fluids will break and you’ll ruin your work.
Once you’re done, have a taste. If you think mayo is just an opaque version of Vasoline, the real stuff will blow your mind.
Then There’s the Turbo Version
If you want to step your game up and make mayo with extra virgin olive oil, you’re going to have to earn it. You can blend the initial mixture as above, but when you add that cup of oil, you’re going to have to whisk it by hand. It will require dexterity. Your forearm will wear out and cramp. But after you screw up a batch or two and finally get it right, you’ll be able to look on your work with the kind of pride available only to those who earn their satisfactions honestly.
Is it all a little French? That’s okay. We got some decent ideas from France. The broad principles that underpin a system of government good enough for the Founders, for one.
The author is aware that persons who think themselves clever may attempt to mock this publication by explaining the title of this essay like so: “White, cold, slippery.” We thought of it first. Try harder.