Monday, May 23, 2011

My husband's homemade mayonnaise

You know how you fall into a routine at home, in which each person is in charge of certain chores? The good old adage of the trash being the man's job and the laundry being a woman's job?

At our house we are pretty interchangeable. We both work and have busy schedules so we take turns cleaning up the dinner dishes, preparing the children for bed and doing laundry. We even take turns with the trash. I consider myself very lucky as Italian men go, my husband is very helpful and an extremely hands on father. Also, we are thankful for every cent we spend on outside help for cleaning and ironing because the memory of past arguments about floor washing and ironing still lingers.

There are however a few things that definitely fall into the "his" and "her" category.

F does all those things involving the car and technology, from computers to TV. He has basement and insect duty. I on the other hand, like most women out there, am the mastermind of the household, ensuring that the wheels keep turning and that its components survive. I also take care of minutiae involving closets, linens, the kids' clothes, nail cutting. And I cook. You may have noticed that.

I love cooking and all the planning and organizing it involves does not bother me in the least. Also, F is the kind of guy who likes pretty much everything I make and has never complained about any of the meals I have prepared, even the ones that went terribly wrong. Believe me, he has had his share. He never points out he was in the mood for one thing rather than the other, something I am sure I would do contantly if I didn't have control over the menu.

F comes from a family who loves food and he grew up eating exceptionally well. When we first started dating he used always talk about a Dijon chicken recipe he made. One night he invited me over to his place and made it and it was delicious. He was also the one in charge of Spaghetti alla Carbonara and all'Amatriciana (guy dishes, the Italian equivalent of a BBQ and burgers, because they involve ingredients like bacon, eggs and onions) in the old days and did a very good job at that too. Then, somewhere along the line, he stopped and never started again.

Oh wait, I forgot about the rabbit interlude about ten years ago. I had started a yoga course that I went to directly from my office on Thursday evenings. I used to get home after 9pm so F was officially in charge of dinner. The first time I walked into the door (with parts of my body hurting that I didn't even know existed), I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely aroma of roasted meat. I took my seat at the table and out came F with an amazing platter of Coniglio alla Toscana, roast rabbit with olives and herbs and baby potatoes. It was delicious and I complimented him all the way through dinner. He proudly told me he had called his mother and asked for directions. I went to bed feeling fuzzy and warm, spoiled and lucky. When he served the same meal the following Thursday I still thought it was excellent but by the fourth Thursday in a row I realized this would no longer be remembered as Yoga Night but as Rabbit Night.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. We were having lunch at friends' and as always in Italy, the conversation revolved around food. They were telling us that they had given up trying to make homemade mayonnaise because it always turned on them. Enter F, instructing them on how to make the perfect mayonnaise.

"Wait, what?"  I thought to myself. "Since when do you make mayonnaise?? Sure, I have heard about your famous mayonnaise numerous times, but in the 17 years we have been together I have never, ever seen you make it. Not once." Which I of course told our friends immediately. A whole wine-fuelled conversation started, filled with lots of laughter, about mayonnaise. It ended with me recording F on my iphone in front of witnesses promising he would make mayonnaise.

Yesteday was the day. The planets were perfectly aligned: my daughter was watching a movie, my son was unbelievably playing alone in his room and I had decided to make a recipe I will be posting about next time. I realized I had no mayonnaise in the house. I looked at Franco questioningly and he knew his time had come. So my man sat down at the kitchen table and whipped up the best darn mayo I have had in a long time. With cold eggs (every recipe insists they must be room temperature) and a wooden spoon (despite my insistence that he use a whisk or an electric beater to make it easier). In. Five. Minutes. There are pictures to prove it.  I always knew I married the right guy. I also know that he will be getting cooking duty more often now.

3 egg yolks
about 1 cup oil
half a lemon
salt to taste

The risk of making mayonnaise is that it can turn on you, meaning the emulsion can separate back into the individual ingredients. The idea is to use all ingredients at room temperature and to pour the oil in a few drops at a time, especially at the beginning. If you want a ligher tasting mayonnaise use a lighter oil. We used extra virgin Tuscan olive oil from our olives and it turned out delicious but strong and with a very yellow hue. Second, make sure you only use the freshest eggs (because they will be consumend raw) and that you keep the mayonnaise refrigerated.
To make the mayonnaise, F briefly mixed the egg yolks and then started pouring in the oil with a very weak but steady flow whilst constantly turning. When the emulsion was ready he added in a good squeeze of lemon and salt to taste.


  1. What a terrific post! From the photos, the story and the way you tell it, everything!! Love it. Funny to hear about how similar our marriages sound too, with the division of labor, and eating/cooking habits.

  2. We totally have our own "roles" here but I am lucky to also have a husband who is very capable of doing things on his own! Like your husband...mine handles all the "I.T." stuff ...we both cook. Really the only responsibilty I have on my own is home decor! LOL! Love the mayonnaise!

  3. Oh delicious. What a great post. We were just talking about making homemade mayo too. I loved hearing about your marriage...we all have such unique partnerships! Thank you for sharing your lovely concoction with me...and for your kind words on my own blog. I hope you have a wonderful evening!

  4. Hehe don't you just love learning new things about your husband! Although I wish mine would reveal some hidden cooking skills! : P

  5. Look at that!!! Amazing! I love mayo and this looks so good. I cannot believe he made it with a wooden spoon!!! Well done F! Bravo! :-) I should show this to my husband... hahaha

  6. Nicole - glad you enjoyed it. I find it is always fun to hear about how other people's relationships work.
    DD&W - I love the home decor role! I have seen your husband cook up some pretty amazing feasts.
    Monet - let me know how yours turns out. You write such lovely, heartfelt posts it is difficult not to respond to them.
    Lorraine - it is amazing, the things you can still learn about a person after so many years.
    Manu - I know, a wooden spoon...who knew?

  7. BRAVA! I have always wanted to try this and now I am sure I have to! My husband revealed his cooking skills ONCE and it is a nightmare we are still getting over! That being said, he does handle a pretty mean grill!

  8. Looks wonderful! Very nice post btw, it seems as though many marriages work the same way!

  9. I make mayo using a stand up mixer, using a wooden spoon looks like rocket science to me... You picked a great husband!

  10. Andrea - hey, as long as he is good at the grill, who's complaining right?
    Miri - yes, I suppose they do. Thanks
    Pola - I know, I still can't believe it. I took much less time and work (olio di gomito) than I expected.

  11. This is something that everybody should make!


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