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Staring stupidly at a jar of commercial mayonnaise one day long ago, I tried to pronounce the preservatives and realized even then that there might be little wisdom in eating a raw egg product that keeps for months. Later, I studied painting in egg tempera with Bill Cumming, who told us never to reuse the jar of a medium that had turned.
That did it for me. I had already worked my way through Julia Child’s mayonnaise yoga, and I decided I wouldn’t ever have to make room for a jar of sandwich spread in my very small refrigerator.
If I can be said to have a forte in my cuisine, it’s probably utility-grade mom chow, although no one turns down the gumbo. Over time, I’ve realized that deconstructing mayonnaise and omitting the dangerous component, egg, is efficient, healthy, and convenient. Dressing potato salad, for example, I add vinegar to the warm tubers, dust with dry mustard, and dress gently with olive oil. The same routine holds for every other preparation that calls for mayonnaise in the mix. It’s not unreasonable to substitute mashed hard-boiled egg yolk in a dish, if an egg is on hand.
Rarely, I make my own mayonnaise to spoon over a salad or dress crustaceans or poultry. I can finesse the seasoning and whisk my own sauce just as easily as I can store and customize the lower-quality commercial product.