Let's be honest: sometimes there's nothing like a good chicken (or tuna!) mayo toasted sarmie, or a proper heap of potato salad made with a generous dollop of the tangy stuff. Or is there?
Not according to an amusing article recently published in Philadelphia magazine, in which the author (a firm devotee of mayonnaise herself) examines "How Millennials Killed Mayonnaise":
"What young people really, really love to hate on is mayonnaise. Back in 2013, BuzzFeed ran an article titled '24 Reasons Mayonnaise Is the Devil’s Condiment'. (The writer called it 'slime of Satan'.) Just three years later, BuzzFeed ran another piece, '23 Things You’ll Only Understand If You Fucking Hate Mayo'. By a different author. There was no overlap. Drew Magary penned a piece for Bon Appétit with the headline 'Big Mayo Will Destroy Us All'. A movie called The Mayo Conspiracy won the Best Comedy Feature at the 2015 World’s Independent Film Festival [poster pictured here]. It concerns the gradual uncovering by a journalist of a mayonnaise cartel that plans to take over the world".
It's a fun read that gives some history of the condiment and its top brands (apparently Richard Hellman narrowly escaped being a passenger on the Titanic's doomed maiden voyage), and considers various theories about why the younger generation apparently doesn't love it anymore.
It's also just remarkable to think about how emotional people can get about a condiment, whether they universally hate it so much that a billboard announcing No Texting, No Speeding, No Ketchup makes sense in Chicago, or love it so dearly that they could pen a couple of thousand words lamenting its demise.
For better or for worse, though, here in South Africa the market for mayo doesn't seem to be on the downside - every take-away shop worth its salt can surely still whip up a decent chicken mayo - and as the author of this article also concludes, most of the fancy aioli you see in restaurants is basically mayo with stuff (true aioli is notoriously difficult to keep without splitting, so very impractical for restaurants to serve).
For the most recent instalment of our Story of a Plate series, we chatted to chef Andre Hill of Upper Bloem restaurant about his favourite dish of Saldanha Bay mussels, which he created to evoke childhood memories of going up the West Coast where his uncle was a snoek fisherman. The mussels they used to cook on the beach surely weren't as pretty and delicious as these!
Bits and Bites
Celebrity chefs - the end of an era?: Detailing the number of "named" restaurants that have closed in recent years (Thomas Keller's Bouchon, twelve of Jamie Oliver's restaurants just this year, Daniel Boulud's iconic DBGB, and, imminently, Gordon Ramsay's Maze), this article suggests we may be seeing the "Twilight of the Celebrity Chef". But while Ramsay and Oliver may have had to shutter a door or two, they're not making any signs of leaving our TV screens anytime soon - even if Ramsay's latest venture with National Geographic is premised on the ridiculous notion of travelling around and teaching local people how to make (presumably better versions of) their own food. (Anthony Bourdain fans are not impressed.)
Meet the chicken sommeliers: Or chimmiliers, as they prefer to be known, as they compete in a Korean competition which takes the "art" of knowing all things fried chicken no less seriously than that of identifying fine wines from around the world. Requiring knowledge of "only" the 30 top fried chicken franchises in the country, contestants have to perform blind tastes, answer multiple choice questions (which members of "college chicken clubs" helped to develop), and so on - did we mention they have to study the Chichelin guide in preparation? It's not all fun and games, though - at the last competition animal activists stormed proceedings shouting "Eating killed chicken is not funny". Indeed not. It sounds very serious.
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