Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Yes, this is a recipe for mayonnaise. Now let me just start by saying that I've never really liked mayonnaise. For most of my life, I've prided myself in not touching the stuff. But that was before our visit to Laura's family seaside home where I encountered homemade mayo for the first time. We had this amazing weekend with them and we ate like kings.

One evening after an afternoon on the beach, there was this thick golden bowl of mayonnaise to accompany the meal. Usually they serve it with fresh tomatoes, boiled chicken or fish, but honesty I can't remember what else was served because it was so good that all I wanted to do was pick up my spoon and eat the whole bowl of it! I did eat an embarrassing amount and vowed to learn how to make it. Laura explained that it is basically just egg and the best quality olive oil. How easy is that! I tried it the very next week but without success. My first attempt ended in a liquidity mess. One time it looked liked Laura's but had this bitter edge. Too much lemon juice? Finally, I called Laura and said I'm coming over and you are going to show me how to do this.

Now Laura is my amica del cuore (friend closest to my heart). Even though she grew up in Florence, and I in Montana, we see eye to eye on most everything in life. Every once in awhile, however, she will say something and I see a cultural chasm open up between us as big as the grand canyon. This was one of those days. We started out with the freshest of eggs for the mayonnaise. As I carefully washed the egg and dried it, Laura explained to me that actually making mayo is a very delicate process. You must stay calm and the egg must be very fresh and at room temperature. Oh and you shouldn't touch the egg if you are having stomach problems or having your menstrual cycle or it will impazzire. I search the archives of my brain for the meaning of impazzire. Finally it comes to me but it doesn't make sense, "You mean it will go crazy?" Yes yes she says, it will go crazy. I stop what I'm doing and turn and look at her. She is absolutely serious. Seeing my blank stare she continued to explain that is why she wasn't touching the egg. Chasm. I had been thinking, I hope I don't kill my family by serving them mayo made with raw egg, which apparently Italian's never worry about. I force myself to keep a straight face as we continued the process and sure enough it came out perfectly.

I am not one to blindly believe what I am told so at home the next week I decide to test this theory. It was "that time of the month" for me and so I buy my fresh eggs from the market and rush home to try it. I'm in a hurry but I make sure that the egg gets a lot of touching as I wash it then break it into a bowl, add a pinch of salt, dash of vinegar and start to add the stream of oil just as Laura showed me. It looked like it was going to set up and then what do you know, it "went crazy".  The egg and the oil separated and it was this horrible inedible mess. What a waste of good olive oil. I waited a week. I calmly place the egg on the counter a couple of hours in advance to let it come to room temperature. Calmly I add salt, vinegar and start the process. It works!! I finally did it. Maybe it's not such a crazy idea after all.

Here is exactly what you need to do to make it. You will need: a mixing wand, a small container to mix it in that isn't too wide at the bottom (mixing bowl or tall container), a pinch of salt, dash of white wine vinegar (red wine will work too), a couple of teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a very fresh organic egg at room temperature, 3 or more tablespoons high quality vegetable oil, about a cup of extra virgin olive oil. Use the best olive oil you can as it obviously affects the flavor.

Add the lemon juice to the olive oil before you begin and whisk together. Put the egg in the mixing container, add a pinch of sea salt, and dash of vinegar. Whisk this together with a fork and then take a deep breath and begin adding the vegetable oil while mixing with the wand. Keep pumping the wand up and down and if it looks like it is starting to thicken go ahead and begin adding the olive oil in a small stream. Keep adding in a small stream while mixing until the olive oil is finished. Taste and adjust the salt. If everything works you will have a thick golden bowl of mayonnaise. Eat within 2 or 3 days. Keep refrigerated obviously.

Note: ok, about the raw eggs. Here in Italy at the market you can buy fresh eggs from these adorable little farm stands that say "uova da bere". Literally "eggs to drink". Now I've never wanted to drink fresh eggs but apparently it would be safe to do so and definitely safe to make mayonnaise. I know this isn't the mindset in America but I've eaten raw eggs in various dishes here in Italy for 9 years now and have never had a problem. As far as I can tell they think we are crazy for worrying about it. I always wash the outside and dry it because oftentimes if there are dangerous bacteria it would come from the outside of the egg. I'd better write a disclaimer just to appease my lawyers in case something happens. So here it is: If you are pregnant, nursing, an infant, have a weak immune system, weak stomach, do not use raw eggs.


  1. Can't wait to try it! I have three hens and lots of eggs. I'm always looking for something new to use the eggs up. Thank you!

  2. Totally funny. Thanks for sharing. Homemade is great, jar mayo is disgusting.
    I could see you and Laura making this together and her being absolutely serious. I miss you and her. Love you

  3. Success! although my olive oil was not that great and it had a slightly bitter taste. It's amazing when it works!

  4. Ok I'm going to work on the Bitter thing because that has happened to me before too. One suggestion is to beat it by hand. Also don't use all olive oil but like half and half. I'll let you know what I come up with in the "test kitchen"