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a French invention

Alton Brown Mayonnaise

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). Read the labels carefully if you don’t want the extra mustard that many French brands have added.

Who invented mayonnaise?

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 Provençale word meaning ‘to labour’ or ‘to tire’)? This is along the same vein as the expression about tossing or ‘fatigue-ing’ the salade.

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Sauces and condiments

Text © Dana Facaros

Image by Kimberly Vardeman