Amoeblog


(In which Job mourns the loss of a loved one.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 25, 2007 11:52pm | Post a Comment
“I miss mayonnaise.”

I thought this to myself as I was walking home from work tonight. It was the sad, unfunny punch-line to a joke that began, “What should I eat for dinner?”

I love cooking for other people. Last minute, eight-course meals deftly prepared using nothing but a half-empty, bachelor’s refrigerator’s groceries? That’s a challenge I am suited for. I am MacGyver in the kitchen. And yes, smart-ass, I in fact could turn a ball of twine and a pinecone into a sumptuous dessert.

Left to my own devices, however, I am more inclined to eat simply. I like very rich foods with few ingredients. I suppose you could say I am the opposite of vegan. In fact, all my favorite foods can be traced back in origin to an udder. (And you Freudians can just back-down, because I have no patience for your antiquated psycho-babble; y’all are the Spanish Inquisition of the Modern Age!)

Cheese, yogurt, eggs – these are the main building blocks of my diet. Up until recently, though, the base of that food pyramid has been – steady yourself – mayonnaise.

Like most of you, I spent the first quarter of my life grossed out by that famous blend of stabilized emulsion of oil and yolks. I was made into a fan by a fellow punk rocker; a girl with long, curly, black tresses who’s name changed as frequently as her sexual partners, and who will remain nameless in this blog because I just said that. It was she who introduced me to the practice of smoking clove cigarettes and dipping French fries into mayo. A temptress indeed.

Tradition informs us that both of these practices are harmful, unattractive, and a good way to end a first date without making it to second base, but when you consider it was this same girl that I wanted to get to second base with, you’ll see why I had no option but to become addicted to both.

The cigarettes I quit long ago. The condiment, only recently.

I’ve never really trusted soy. Oh, I like miso soup, very much, and soy sauce too, if there’s no Bragg’s Liquid Aminos present. It’s these new-fangled incarnations of soy that trouble me.

Soybeans are cooked and ground and whipped and injected and shaped to resemble everything from a scoop of ice cream to a cube of butter to an entire Thanksgiving turkey to my grandmother. The things they do to the soy – the heavy processing – freaks me out a li'l. I am not a scientist; I have done no educated testing to support my theory; I have nothing but intuition.

I feel the same way about waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.; I don’t know they’re harmful, I simply don’t trust them.

So when, out of sudden and ill-advised curiosity, I turned a jar of my favorite mayo* around to read the ingredients, I was shocked, appalled, and, as though I had been transported back in time, grossed out to learn that my beloved glop was mostly made out of soybean oil.

I was torn. I wanted to forget I had ever read it. Maybe I had judged soy too harshly? No. No, I couldn’t feel right about soy. But maybe, since I had already enjoyed it for so many years, I could make an exception, just for mayonnaise?

I tried that for a jar, but it was too late. It weirded me out now. I was Adam and Eve, once happy in oblivion and free to enjoy myself; then I succumbed to the Condiment of the Hot Dog Stand of Knowledge, and now I saw that I was naked. And I was sore ashamed.

I discovered Trader Joe’s Canola Oil mayo, but I was living a lie. It wasn’t the mayo I loved. It was smooth as silk and tarter. Not clumpy and subtly nasty like Best Foods. Besides, even without the soy, I had also taken a quick glance at the fat content of mayo. When I did the math and learned that one of my serving sizes equaled about a week’s supply for the Food and Drug Administration, my heart almost stopped then and there.

So, with a great sadness reserved for British soldiers who discover in court that the Chinese woman they’ve been married to for years is actually a man and that they’re going to write many awful plays and films about you, I said “zài jiàn” to mayo.



Love means never having to say 'I'm sorry I have a womb and a Y chromosome.'

It was only then that I realized how much I had come to depend upon it to make simple meals a pleasure. A bland burrito could be made festive with mayo and Chinese spicy sauce. Uninspired linguine with marinara because decadent when mayo made it a sweet-tomato cream sauce. A can of tuna, carrot sticks, peanut butter and crackers – all these things worked fine as an entire meal when paired with mayo. What now?

Well, it’s been some months since I axed mayo from my diet (though I still enjoy it with fries when I go out to eat – it’s like the difference between a glass of wine with friends and a box of wine alone). I can say that I’ve adapted well. I’ve even lost weight.

But on these evenings when I'm particularly tired and I don’t feel like steaming “this” or layering slices of “that”, I am reminded of how convenient, inexpensive and fulfilling mayo was for me. Oh sure, I’m still MacGyver – but these days I feel like I don’t even have a pinecone option, to say nothing of twine.

I determined to take myself out to eat. I rarely do that alone. There’s a sushi restaurant near my home that I wanted to try out, so I headed there, giddy for my impulsive adventure, only to see that it was graded a ‘C’ by the health inspectors. Raw fish and filth? Um, no thanks.

Of course, raw fish, filth, and mayonnaise – now that’s got some possibilities…



My sweetheart in happier times...

[Incidentally, I realize this blog entry has little to do with music, films, or anything else that Amoeba sells. So allow me to say that I really like all albums by Moondog and that you should listen to them. Thank you.]

*I have been a loyal supporter of Best Foods Mayonnaise. Those of you east of the Rockies will know it as Hellmann’s Blue Ribbon, although I’ve seen Hellmann's for sale on the West Coast, too, at Target. Also, Sysco brand is acceptable, which is good, because it seems to be the default of many West Coast restaurants.

Relevant Tags

Trader Joe's (21), Johann Strauss (2), Soy (1), Freud (1), Vegan (1), Macgyver (2), Food (26), Mayonnaise (4), Moondog (1), Target (5)