I arrive the day before the EU referendum vote. London is hot and sticky, under a heavy grey cloud. Later, there is lightning and Biblical rains.
My 93-year-old mother and I agree not to talk about Brexit. It would be too painful and divisive. She believes the Daily Mail. I think it is the politics of hate.
So, I watch her making mayonnaise, Zimmer-framed yet resolute. I admire her spirit.
My mother Fay has been making home-made mayonnaise since the 1950s.
She would not dream of having shop-bought mayonnaise in her home. Ever.
My mother uses a food processor these days but says nothing (‘scuse pun) beats mayonnaise made by hand, using a fork as a whisk.
My sister Gee (see pics of her 1974 mayonnaise recipe below) eschews a food processor because it makes the mayonnaise too dense, and uses an electric mixer with the balloon whisk attachment instead. She also (I love this refinement!) whisks in the olive oil by hand, with a fork, at the very end of the process.
Gee also adds a teaspoon of warm water to lighten the mixture, if, she says, she is feeling French.
Fay’s home-made mayonnaise
The risk factor is curdling – when the oil and egg separate. So make sure the eggs are at room temperature. Emulsify the egg yolks with mustard, then add the oil very, very, very, slowly, drop-by-drop.
Then – once the risk of curdling has passed – pour oil in a thin stream, whisking all the time. You can speed up the streaming of the oil. Add lemon juice or a dribble of vinegar to thin.
If it curdles, do not despair but start again with one egg yolk and add the curdled mixture, again – s l o o o o w l y!
My mum uses 1/2 pint of oil, which equals 10 fluid ounces, of which 7 or 8 fluid ounces is sunflower oil, and the remaining 3 or 2 fluid ounces is olive oil. My sister Gee (who makes mayonnaise without such exact measuring) says in other words: use mostly sunflower oil.
I use organic oils because organic certification guarantees oils have been cold-pressed by mechanical (not chemical) means, ensuring maximum nutrients and top taste.
2 egg yolks
Two egg yolks is the minimum whether for 1/2 pint or 1 pint of oil. Keep the egg whites in the fridge (or freeze them) for future meringues or cocktails.
1/2 pint of oil of which most is sunflower oil, with top-up of olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon dry mustard powder (my mother thinks ready-made mustard is sacrilegious but Gee, free-thinker that she is, believes this makes the mayonnaise bitter and swears instead by Dijon mustard.).
2-3 or more garlic cloves cut-up
Using a food processor, electric balloon whisk or a fork, start by combining the egg yolks and mustard. Add garlic. Add oil SLOW-BY-SLOW until the mixture emulsifies. Then, once there is no risk of egg and oil separating, gently add the oil in a thin stream – whisking all the time!
Juice of half – one lemon, as little salt as possible to taste and a light shake of cayenne pepper. (In another departure from the status-quo, Gee adds seasoning – salt (1/2 teaspoon to 1/2 pint of oil) and paprika which is less spicy than cayenne – at the very start because otherwise, she says, the salt does not mix in properly).
I cannot end this post without adding, for the record:
I am European. I am international. We are one family.
If money and weapons can move freely around the globe, why not people? Especially people displaced by war.
I am not saying the EU is perfect (obvs). It needs reform. But, hey, the UK has its own unelected bureaucrats and neo-liberal project. Surely reform (like charity) starts at home?
The Brexit campaign was led by vile hate-filled propaganda which has legitimised hate, unleashing a rise in racist crimes.
Many who voted to leave are angry, and this anger (zero hours contracts, underfunded public services and unaffordable housing) is correct. But to conclude the problem is caused by the EU and immigration is a severe misdiagnosis resulting in the wrong medicine, which will only make conditions deteriorate.
Leave is the operative word. I feel the grown-ups have taken leave of their senses. I feel left in the hands of an irresponsible parent consumed by their own crazy agenda.
I am “returning” to the comfort of mayonnaise.