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The History of Mayo

By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

This thick, cold, and delicate dressing is a stable emulsion of egg yolk, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt (the secret is to add some drops of vinegar!). This popular condiment, used as a common dip for French fries or spread onto sandwiches, actually has an ancient origin.

After French forces under the command of the third Duke de Richelieu laid siege to Port Mahon on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Minorcan in the first European battle of the Seven Years’ War in 1756, the Duke’s chef wanted to celebrate the victory with a banquet, and needed a proper dish with a creamy sauce. However, it seemed impossible to find heavy cream on the island, so he got inspiration from the locals. He modified a typical Minorcan recipe and created his victory sauce with egg yolks, calling it mahonnaise after its place of birth.

Then the French popularized the sauce.

From the early 19th century, the word mayonnaise started to appear in British and German cookbooks of French cuisine. And very soon, mayonnaise landed in America, where in 1838 it appeared on the first menu with lobster and chicken. A hundred years later, jars of mayonnaise were on the shelves of grocery shops around the world!

It’s actually very easy to make your own mayonnaise from scratch:


Homemade Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

6 drops of white wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Whisk together yolk and salt. Slowly add about 1/4 cup of oil, drop by drop, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in vinegar and lemon juice, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of oil in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended and incorporated. Add pepper and chill.

*If you want, you can use sunflower oil for a lighter taste version.

*If your mayonnaise splits, you can also make it in a blender—I personally use two forks or a whisker.

Mayonnaise is an ingredient for a lot of fresh recipes.

Here is one of my favorites.


Dinner With a Dragon

(Pesce Finto/Mock Fish)

I have friends for dinner—actually, a lot of them—gathered to watch Games of Thrones!

I want to surprise my guests with a recipe that brings me back to my childhood.

My mother used to prepare the Pesce Finto (mock fish) often. My brother and I were, and still are, big fans of this delicious dish made with tuna and potatoes. My mother used to serve it in funny shapes, as I'm going to do tonight to celebrate dragons.

I'm proud to show you the pic of my tuna dragon! And because I pestered my boyfriend almost everyday to shoot the pics for this blog, I think he deserves a double dragon portion!

The recipe is basic, easy and cheap, the results, excellent.

If you like, you can add one boiled egg to the mixture, or use it to garnish. I must confess, for this recipe I used readymade mayonnaise, because the homemade version is too heavy, but follow your taste to create your own recipe. Your creativity is your own personal secret ingredient.


Tuna Dragon

(for 6 hungry friends)

4 1/2 lb. (2 kg) yellow potatoes

1 cup canned tuna in oil (choose a brand that saves the dolphins)

1 cup of mayonnaise

1 cup mixed pickles

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tbs vinegar

Salt and pepper

Olives and gherkins to garnish

Peel potatoes and boil them in a large pot.

When the potatoes are ready, drain them and cut in pieces. The secret of the texture for this recipe is to use cold potatoes or everything will be mushy. While the potatoes are cooling, get a large mixing bowl and mix the drained tuna fish, chopped pickles, lemon juice, vinegar, mayo, salt and pepper. Now add cold chopped potatoes and 2 tbs of good olive oil. Mix all the ingredients with a fork. The texture of the mix must still have some potato chunks in it.

Now choose your favorite shape (a fish, a heart, a dragon, whatever you like). Work with your hands and a spatula to help shape it. Garnish as you like. Actually, this dragon misses the wings, we’ll add them at the very end: just two large leaves of salad (they cover the pic completely, so I prefer to add wings later).

Serve with a nice glass of sparkling white wine.

Cheers to the dragons!
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