Perhaps the most famous and widely used of all French sauces, mayonnaise is an emulsion of egg yolks and oil, with vinegar, mustard, salt and papper.
If you aren’t making it yourself, it’s on every supermarket shelf (some also sell fancy homemade kinds in the refrigerated section). Many French brands have extra mustard in them, so if you want it without, look carefully at the labels.
As with so many other famous French dishes, its origins are disputed.
Did the first recorded mayonnaise involve a duke of Mayenne at the time of the Fronde?
Or was it originally Mahonnaise (from Mahon, a city on the island of Menorca, captured by the Duke of Richelieu in 1756, whose chef, in a culinary clutch, invented the sauce from a few available ingredients)? I like this one the best.
Or is it Magnon-naise (from an old Provencale word meaning ‘to labour’ or ‘to tire’)? This goes along nicely with the expression about tossing or ‘fatigue-ing’ the salade.
Image by Kimberly Vardeman