In Defense of Mayo: The Condiment We Can’t Live Without
Photo: Lonely Planet Images (Getty Images)
If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you know that there’s a ton of mayo haters out there, and a fair share of memes slandering the silky amalgam of vinegar and eggs that’s, ironically, the base ingredient for many beloved sauces.
You know that Sriracha aioli you like so much? Mayonnaise-based.
How about that “secret sauce” you enjoy on your burger? Mayonnaise strikes again. The Green Goddess dressing that made the rounds online? Yep, it’s mayo that gives it that coveted creaminess to coat your kale salad. What about those addictive dipping sauces for your frites? Loaded. With. Mayo. From lemon basil to roasted garlic, it’s that savory mayonnaise base that makes it so pleasing to the palate.
What are you eating your beer-battered fish with? Tartar sauce, which is just relish and (you guessed it) mayonnaise. Try slathering your seafood in relish alone and you’ll see what mayo brings to the party. And, come on, Dijonnaise has the “naise” right in the name!
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You’d be hard-pressed to find any delectable spread that isn’t elevated by the addition of mayo, and yet the masses revile it like some unsanitary substance you’d find in an undercover exposé about the lack of cleanliness in hotel chains.
But mayonnaise is that secret ingredient in nearly every tasty food you crave. Why? Because it adds an unctuous quality to everything it touches, imparting a richness that both subdues and piques other ingredients to create a whole new flavor profile. If you watch cooking shows, unctuousness is the holy grail of taste, taking your mouth on a velvety smooth texture tour that leads straight to butterville. Because it is, in essence, a delicious, spreadable fat. Like buttah.
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With mayo in the mix, the high fructose sweetness of ketchup is muted into luscious tomato silk. A scoop of mayo makes mashed potatoes melt into fluffy, buttery mounds. Add a dollop to your casseroles and they’re transformed into hearty swirls of savory velvet. Chipotle and lime find their home in crema form thanks to mayo, swaddling your fish tacos or enveloping your elotes. Grilled cheese gets gilded edges of golden brown with a slide of mayo across the bread before grilling. And where would diced chicken or hard-boiled eggs be without the creamy embrace of Hellmann’s?
The bottom line is mayo has become a tired diss as unoriginal as hating on Nickelback. To prove our point, here are three recipes that go from “Whatever” to “Wow!” with the addition of mayo-laden luxuriousness:
Alabama’s best kept culinary secret gives the traditional crimson variety a run for its money with a creamy counterpoint to the smokiness of chargrilled chicken or baby back ribs. Mop this on any meat and marvel in your newfound love of mayo.
The addition of mayonnaise to avocado, long known as a “good fat,” takes this lush green fruit to the next level, turning anything it touches into a transport for unparalleled umami. That’s more food speak for the indescribable fifth flavor that talks to your tongue in texture more than taste. Spread it on sandwiches, burgers, or as a tangy accouterment for flank steak or fajitas.
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It would be a challenge to try to work chutney alone into a variety of dishes outside of Indian cuisine since it has a very distinct smack of spice and sugar. But swirl in our MVP, mayo, and you’ve got a versatile new condiment that heightens everything from coconut fried shrimp to bratwurst.
If you still need something to hate on, might we suggest turning your anger toward the mayo impostor, Miracle Whip? Then dip another
fry into a luxurious pool of rosemary aioli, because you can no longer deny it, mayo is good.