Thursday, May 05, 2011

Slightly belated, a more whimsical topic than the heavy one permeating the blogosphere this week....

...although I will point out that Osama bin Laden died on Divine Mercy Sunday (depending on your time zone, anyway).

But anyway, Thursday being the day it has been, I got to talking with some coworkers about a certain creamy condiment, and about a certain similar creamy condiment that claims to be a different food product.

Surprisingly, my coworkers were strident in Miracle Whip's defense.  "It's got a certain...tang to it."

Really?  Put me in a taste test and I think I could tell the difference, maybe even see the difference, but I don't know that I could tell you which one was which.

Maybe I've just never had particularly bland mayonnaise, or despite breathing in corrosive fumes all day long I'm still sensitive enough to spices that the allegedly tamer of the two does not strike me as decisively milder.

Yeah, yeah, maybe it's possible my nose is so burned out I can't taste Miracle Whip either, but it's always been this way for me, before going into industry, before leaving the home of my childhood that was entirely populated by nonsmokers, so I'm shunting that to the bottom of the list of excuses.

I'm thinking maybe it's just a brand loyalty thing, the way some people prefer Pepsi or Coke or RC, but at least none of those brands has the pretense to say "we're not some mere cola!"  They're all colas that merely differ by secondary ingredients, just like how Cherry Coke is still a Coca-Cola and Pepsi Blue is still a Pepsi-Cola.

I've seen and experienced so much variation in mayonnaise that it's really going to take more than branding to tell me a spade ain't a spade.  Ever try aioli?  Farther out than Miracle Whip.

Not that I have anything against Miracle Whip.  I've yet to meet an egg emulsion I haven't liked.

But anyway, just for the record, here's a basic list of the ingredients that mayonnaise and Miracle Whip have in common:

  • water
  • sugar
  • eggs (whole and/or processed yolks>
  • soybean oil
  • vinegar

Dude, that's mayonnaise.  The recipe I use doesn't call for added water, and I leave out the sugar, and I've been using predominantly or exclusively olive oil since before it was hot, but that's your baseline:  egg, oil, vinegar.  The proportions I use are generally 2 eggs to 1 cup of oil to 1 tablespoon of vinegar, plus whatever else I feel like.  Maybe mustard or sesame oil, maybe balsamic or malt vinegar.

Okay, what kind of vinegar do they use?  Probably white, if it's not specified, but whatever.

Here's where list of ingredients starts to diverge.  First, the "unique" ingredients to Miracle Whip, sans some irrelevant processing items:

  • mustard flour
  • paprika
  • dried garlic
  • spice
  • natural flavor

Keep in mind those last two.

Now, the differing (cough) ingredients in an official mayonnaise--I looked up Hellmann's because it's well known:

  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • natural flavors

"Natural flavors?"  "Spice?"   Okay, lemon juice--it's still a fairly strong acid for a food, but it'll be fruitier than most vinegars.  Garlic?  Maybe, but I wouldn't call it tangier than lemon juice.  Everything else?  It's all sausage to me.  Paprika, mustard (powdered or the condiment that also contains vinegar and turmeric), chile paste, garlic (dried or oil), it's all good.

But to me, it's all mayo.  All different kinds, but it's mayo.

Oh, before I go, a cooking tip:  instead of using butter on the outside of grilled cheese sandwiches or cooking spray for panini, spread a little mayo on the bread.  The oil will keep it from sticking and the egg will crust up nicely, and it can add a little zing to the flavor (or tang, if you choose Miracle Whip instead).

Seriously, it works.  It'll come out looking almost like French toast but you won't regret it.

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