Monday, 9 August 2010

This is not real mayonnaise. A rant.

This is a rant, and I apologise. Grit your teeth, go and make some coffee, we’ll get through it together. You’re actually doing something very charitable in reading this because you’re stopping me firing off a complaint email to Unilever which might be a bit mad and also would mark my official transformation into Disgruntled of Cambridge.
Delicious real food growing in a very real fashion in my garden, with bonus spiky weeds
As you know, I’m trying to buy more local food and cut down on supermarket shopping. It’s going ok so far and I’ve been finding some good local suppliers. However, this is still a work in progress, which is why I recently found myself in Tesco, cross-eyed under those halogen lights, trying not to run my trolley into anything that might feel pain, and reaching out for a new jar of mayonnaise.
ceci n'est pas, etc. Do they think we are daft?
Now, I know they’ve probably been branding it like this for years (‘Real Mayonnaise!’) but I hadn’t really noticed it before. However, seeing an entire shelf full of mayonnaise jars all screaming it at me annoyed me. I actually could not buy it. I reached in again. I am now officially boycotting Hellmann’s mayonnaise. This is why it annoyed me (come on. Teeth gritted. Stop me sending that email.):

Processed food is fake food. It is fake. It is a simulacrum of the real thing: it is not satisfying. We all know that. We all still eat it, (I do, certainly), because we are too busy to cook, or because some of it is quite nice (Waitrose curries!), or we don’t know how to cook something, or we feel like eating something fake (cough Pringles cough. Or Tunnocks teacakes.) There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re not in a who-has-the-most-perfect-diet competition, if we were I would most definitely lose it, and, let’s be honest, some things are a great big faff to make yourself. I’m not eager to try and make marmite, for example, and I think it would have to be quite special circumstances that would induce me to make my own croissants again (hours and hours. Then the butter squashed out everywhere!).

But – fake food is fake food. Call a spade a spade. Don’t tell me it’s real. What does that even mean, anyway? It’s real because it’s the oldest mayonnaise brand? (is it?) It doesn’t have as many chemicals as some of the others? It’s made by a process that bears some resemblance to the way you make it by hand? Whatever the justification (I’m sure there is one somewhere, funnily enough their website is not helpful), the underlying message is actually really nasty and insidious. What they want you to think is, it’s not worth making your own. Processed Food Is Real, providing it’s been around long enough and gives a bit of a cynical nod to fashionable ethics. Hellmann’s is as real as it gets. Well, obviously this is complete rubbish, as well as being a bit scary. So, as I am now boycotting Hellmann’s, I have made my own mayonnaise. It took me 10 minutes and that included washing up a bowl. And I am dopey, you may well do it quicker. This is how you do it:
Delicious mayonnaise made by me. Yum. (No honestly, it really was delicious.)
To make 5ml mayonnaise you need:

1 egg yolk,
1/2 clove garlic, squashed (WARNING this makes it very garlicky – if you don’t want that, put less in - if you live in Forks perhaps use a bit more)
Sprinkle salt/ grind pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder.

Mix all the above together in a bowl. Then take 5ml of oil (I use a mix of light olive oil and sunflower oil, in fact I use the same olive oil I use to make soap, bear that in mind if you ever come to dinner) and add it 1 drop at a time, then whisk it thoroughly after each drop. This is to stop it curdling. However I have never had a mayonnaise curdle on me apart from one time when I used an electric whisk not a handwhisk – I don’t know why that was but I have used a handwhisk ever since with no problems. When your mayonnaise starts to thicken and look like mayonnaise you can start adding bigger drops. When you have added about 3ml oil, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to loosen it, then add the rest of the oil.

Voilà! Delicious mayonnaise that is a million, million times better than anything you could buy. It only keeps for a few days as it doesn’t contain Calcium Disodium EDTA (but, you wouldn’t expect to scramble eggs and then add preservative and keep them for three months, would you? Make it in small quantities, eat it up. Enjoy it!)

Real food. I don’t think so!


Dan said...

I love Tunnocks teacakes, but the mere thought of them has given me toothache. I get worried when I see 'now made with real chicken.' What the hell was I eating before?

Mumma Troll said...

I too have been converted to home made mayo after sampling my mums, she added a little dijon mustard to hers and it was divine. We are gradually using up our not quite so real food in the house, although as you say some things are just not replacable (being a marmite lover). I do pity those who don't have time to make everything from scratch, they are really missing out.xx

Susie said...

It's Dan! I like Butterscotch Angel Delight (I can't even think what that's supposed to be like. Is it supposed to be like anything?)

Mumma Troll, I must try mine with dijon mustard, that sounds delicious. When I was working stupid hours I bought everything ready made, although looking back I think it was more that I was too stressed to think about cooking than that I didn't have time - I did once have a moment of revelation in M&S when I thought that in the time I'd spent wandering round not knowing what to buy, I could have gone home and made an omelette or something!