Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is a stable emulsion of oil, vinegar or lemon juice, with many options for embellishment with other herbs and spices. Egg yolk is the traditional emulsifier. It is often cream in color, and may be anything in texture from that of light running cream to thick. In countries influenced by France, mustard is also a common ingredient, whereas in Spain it is made using the same ingredients, but specifically olive oil as the oil, and never with mustard. Numerous other sauces can be created from it with addition of various herbs, spices, and finely chopped pickles. Where mustard is used it is also an emulsifier.

The most probable origin of mayonnaise is that the recipe was brought back to France from the town of Mahon in Menorca (Spain), after Louis-Fran├žois-Armand du Plessis de Richelieu's victory over the British at the city's port in 1756. According to this version, the sauce was originally known as salsa mahonesa in Spanish and maonesa in Catalan (as it is still known on Menorca), later becoming mayonnaise as it was popularized by the French.

The French Larousse Gastronomique 1961 suggests: "Mayonnaise, in our view, is a popular corruption of moyeunaise, derived from the very old French word moyeu, which means yolk of egg."The sauce may have been christened mayennaise after Charles de Lorraine, duke of Mayenne, because he took the time to finish his meal of chicken with cold sauce before being defeated in the Battle of Arques.

Nineteenth-century culinary writer Pierre Lacam suggested that in 1459, a London woman named Annamarie Turcauht stumbled upon this condiment after trying to create a custard of some sort.

According to Trutter et al.: "It is highly probable that wherever olive oil existed, a simple preparation of oil and egg came about – particularly in the Mediterranean region, where aioli (oil and garlic) is made."

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mayonnaise made its English language debut in a cookbook of 1841.

Mayonnaise can be made by hand with a mortar and pestle, whisk or fork, or with the aid of an electric mixer, an electric blender, or a food processor. Mayonnaise is made by slowly adding oil to an egg yolk, while whisking vigorously to disperse the oil. The oil and the water in yolks form a base of the emulsion, while the lecithin from the yolks is the emulsifier that stabilizes it. Additionally, a bit of a mustard may also be added to sharpen its taste, and further stabilize the emulsion.

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