#8: The Magic of Mayo

Mayonnaise.  A polarizing condiment at the heart of many fast-food mismade order complaints.  With or without makes a world of difference, and people have STRONG preferences.  After this post I hope we can all agree on one thing: that mayo has made the world an interesting place.  And if you can’t see that, at least find me hilarious and tell all your friends.  In any case, “may-I” present to you… .

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logo final The. Magic. Of. Mayo.

So. Um. What IS it?  Before culinary school I had no clue what mayo was made of or how this goop was concocted.  It turns out that I wasn’t alone.  My roommates a few years ago looked flabbergasted when I announced I was going to whip up mayo for a potato salad.

Bewildered roomie 1: “How… wait… you can MAKE it?”

Confuzzled roomie 2: “What’s even IN it?”

Wise, knowing me: “Yes, you can make it.  What do YOU think is in it?”

Confuzzled roomie 2: “oh… um…  maybe something dairy-ish?”

Bewildered roomie 1: “OMG can we watch you make it?!”

One egg yolk, some vinegar, a cup of oil, and plenty of whisking later and I was dressing piping hot potatoes in creamy gooey goodness.  Their lives were forever changed.  My stomach was happily filled with fucking amazing picnic grub.  #everybodywon.  How do egg yolks, vinegar, and oil transform themselves so profoundly? We will get to that in a minute.  First, lets take a look at how much the United States loves mayo. The US consumed 2.4 million tons of sauces and condiments in 2010, including 279,200 tons of mayo.  This makes mayonnaise a $1.7 billion industry in the United States.  Even though we Americans love it, we still don’t agree on how to pronounce it.  And for those out there who “hate mayo,” do you like tartar sauce? thousand island dressing?  how about RANCH DRESSING?  Yeah.  All derived from mayo.  Suck it.

mayonnaise
Thanks Joshua Katz of NC State University for the awesome map!

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That. Geeky. Science. Section.

So. My people. Let’s get physical. Physical chemistry, that is (ooooo, no she didn’t! #nice).  I know a thing or two about emulsion science, since this guy taught my 400-level food chemistry course.  Dr. Coupland also has a British accent, so please read the rest of this section in your best Colin Firth voice.  It sounds even smarter that way.  Mayonnaise is an oil-in-water emulsion of two immiscible substances.  Vinegar and lemon juice are the water-based, or hydrophilic, ingredients.  Oil is the fat, or hydrophobic, ingredient.  Egg yolks provide the emulsifier lecithin, which keeps the substances dispersed.  Mustard is also an emulsifier, which can explain why the French seem to include copious amounts of Dijon in their mayo. Lecithin molecules have hydrophobic tails and hydrophilic head groups.  Because of their ambiphilic nature the lecithin orients itself so that the tail is in oil while the head groups are in vinegar/lemon juice.  Imagine if a bisexual was attracted only to women in their upper half and men in their lower half.  They would orient themselves towards the sex that attracts them.  Lecithin and bisexuals are known in science as surfactants (note: no known studies have been conducted on the use of bisexuals in foods as surfactants).  Other surfactants include mono and di glycerides, polysorbates, and polyglycerol esters.  So the next time you are reading a food label and see this, do not panic.  It has a purpose.

Anyway, back to the mayo.  As drops of oil are whisked into an egg/acid mixture, lecithin begins coating the tiny drops.  A layer of lecithin coats each sphere of oil, keeping it separate from the continuous vinegar phase.  These droplets then stay suspended in the vinegar until the lecithin pool runs out, which can cause a break in the emulsion.  The physical dispersion of oil molecules diffracts light, creating an opaque goop somewhat white in color.  I love mayo for its stability, as it doesn’t disassociate like most other homemade salad dressings,  Other food emulsions include salad dressing (oil and vinegar), homogenized milk (milk fat and water), sausage (meat, fat, and water), and even chocolate (cocoa butter and milk).  #Mindsblown?  I know.

Still not sure how this whole emulsion thing works? Let me demonstrate, going back to the bisexual example:

immiscible
The lady-loving upper half of Erica orients to Tina Fey and Keira, while Erica’s fell-loving lower half is drawn to the power of Han Solo and Zefron. #surfactantscience

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Is. Mayo. Bad. For. Me?

Most of my loved ones have heard my “good for you/bad for you” speech.  It goes a little something like this: We don’t know. Nutrition is a young science.  Human physiology is complicated and varied.  What works for some may not work for all.  Remember the sugar free ’80s?  The low-fat everything ’90s?  The Atkins low-carb protein-heavy ’00s?  Obesity rates have been steadily increasing, regardless of new fail proof food strategies.  We really don’t know of just one diet that improves the overall health of ALL people.  Trying to comb through diet plans and score individual good products for health implications is nearly impossible.  Have you read study designs for research on the physiological effects of single foods?  How do you control for every other diet, lifestyle, and genetic parameter?  Besides, the dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy (thanks Paracelsus).  One glass of red wine is “good for you,” but a few bottles send you to the emergency room with alcohol poisoning.  The classification of any food as wholly “good” or “bad” is so black and white.  Only a Sith deals in absolutes (thanks Yoda). Plus, the evaluation of an action as “practical” depends on what it is that one wishes to practice (thanks Ayn Rand).

Alright, alright, rant aside, is mayo bad for you?  Mayo is basically just a fat.  And calorically dense.  So if you are trying to limit daily caloric intake, a dollop of mayo will pack a serious punch.  If you are following a low fat regiment, a 1/4 cup of eggy goodness is not your friend.  Beyond that, don’t freak.  a little Hellman’s will not destroy your well balanced life.  The fat profile of mayo isn’t even that bad.  In 1 tablespoon (13g), there are 10g of fat but only 1.5g of saturated fat.  Butter carries 11g of fat per tablespoon, 7g of which are saturated.  The fat in mayonnaise is largely omega-3 fatty acids due to the soybean oil.  The alpha-linolenic acid content of mayonnaise is pretty damn high – 1 tablespoon gets you 68% of your daily ALA recommendation.  Mayo also has less cholesterol than butter: 5mg compared to 30mg.   One tablespoon also contains 25% of a female’s daily Vitamin K requirement. BAM.  Not bad.  Tell your friends.  And If you are still worried about the health effects of mayo, just drink a cup of green tea and it will fix everything! (#sarcasm) (plug for post #6: The Grace of Green Tea)

Note:  As most health professionals know, mayonnaise even has an entire clinic devoted to studying its health effects.  Wait… what’s that?  The Mayo Clinic has NOTHING to do with Mayonnaise?  Well that’s confusing.  It turns out the non-profit health giant was founded by a guy named William Worrall Mayo. .

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Serious. Field. Research.

I was raised in a Hellman’s-or-nothing household.  Miracle Whip was practically a curse word.  Even though I rarely ate the stuff, I took Hellman’s supremacy at face value.  Normal behavior for such a compliant child… LOLZ.  But really, why question what didn’t yet affect me? (NOTE: I no longer hold this world view)  It took some courage, but this week I through tradition to the wind and purchased OTHER brands of mayonnaise (#sorrymom #sorrygod).  This product round-up led to what I call “Mayofest 2013: The day Erica consumed 80% of her daily caloric intake as mayonnaise.”  What started as an amusing condiment comparison quickly unraveled into an off-white fatty tongue coating nightmare.  All in the name of science.  You’re welcome.

IMGP3428
YEAH. I ate that. One more time… YOU’RE WELCOME.
mayo comp
Mad excel skills
IMGP3432 B
let’s take a closer look, shall we?

To summarize:  Hellman’s good, Miracle Whip bad.  Wow.  I guess mom was right all along (#motherknowsbest #himom #I loveyou #mommasboyalert) .

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Weird. Food. Shit.

You may have noticed the bacon flavored mayonnaise, or baconnaise, that trickled into our tasting.  I was disappointed in Kraft’s failed attempt, but still believe that baconnaise is an amazing product.  It is common among the Amish (#hollaLancaster), who make it using bacon grease.  There were a few oddities that I wasn’t able to get my hands on, such as cannabis mayo. Yes, THAT kind of cannabis.  Apparently “highonnaise” is expected to be sold by a Manneken Pis fry shop in Amsterdam.  God Bless the Dutch.  Another creation that caught my eye is mayonnaise milkshakes and ice cream.  Japan is known for their wacky food concoctions, but this one might push my limits.  I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream around the house, but it won’t be long before curiosity gets the better of me.  Andrew Zimmern understands. .

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It seems that with food crazes the escalation scale goes from candy bar flavor to ice cream product, then to alcoholic beverage.  As Chef Erica Wides would say, the Japanese mayonnaise cocktails have reached the ninth circle of foodiness hell.  *shudder*

mayodrinks
STOP THE MAYO MADNESS. Can you even imagine what puking this up would be like? YEAH. I went there. *re:shudder*

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Life. Changing. Recipes.

Now that your taste buds are watering, let’s make mayo!  Here is my go-to mayonnaise recipe, from my kitchen to yours.

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Homemade Mayonnaise. Click photo for link.

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Shwhat will you do with all of this fabulous goop?  How about you whip up some homemade chicken salad with pumpkin seeds, craisins, and love?

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United Tastes’ Favorite Chicken Salad

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If you still have leftover mayonnaise and want to get your provincial Frenchman on, try this seafood stew.  It’s a great way to use up frozen seafood, or stretch seafood for a dinner party dish.  The rouille (saffron aioli) is a crucial element, sure to impress the snobbiest palates.

IMGP3455
Bouillabaisse with Homemade Rouille. Click photo for link.

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Y’all. Rock. Off. My. Socks.

Many thanks to my faithful followers – I wouldn’t do it without your constant praise and approval!  Keep it flowing.  I’m like Tinkerbell, I need applause or I’ll die.  UToE blog recently hit over 2,000 views this week so great job at spreading my delicious words!  If my following keeps growing I just might have to start up “UToE: The Vlog.”  What do you guys think: would a YouTube channel be any fun?  Hmmmm….

Awesome job to my sister S for the photo taking and editing (#sherocks) and to my momma and poppa for use of Chez Copelin (#thatswhatmydadcallstheirkitchennow).  Much love to my editor and main squeeze C (#youaremyrock #vomitsticker).   Be sure to tune in next week for a very special HALLOWEEN post where I tackle that jack-o-lantern filling fall favorite… CANDY CORN!

Until then, Bon App Y’all

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Sources de la info

The All-Mighty Wiki

Data and shit

Science and shit

Nutrition and shit (whoa, I’m feeling profane tonight huh?)

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8 thoughts on “#8: The Magic of Mayo

  1. Ben is converting me to a MW eater. Strange but it’s taken over my preferences. My family has always had both at home. It doesn’t surprise me you hate it… I’m also a little sad there weren’t any BLT discussions… that is why mayo exists, no?

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