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The Mayonnaise Susannah Tasted

In doing research for my novel “Teacups and Lies” I became very interested in all things nineteenth-century.

I came across a cookbook, appropriately named “Tested Recipe Cookbook”, copyrighted in 1895. You can look at it yourself online, by following this link:

After browsing through pages of such recipes as “Fish Pudding with Cream Sauce” and “Brain Patties”, I wondered how that generation survived. I am so grateful to be living in the 21st century.

After more browsing, I came across a recipe for French Mayonnaise.

This recipe caught my attention for two reasons. Years ago I made my own mayonnaise several times just to say I could – until the day I made it with olive oil. Oil is the main ingredient in mayonnaise. Olive oil has a green cast, and when you use it in mayonnaise, it comes out looking more like...well...snot. That cured me of ever wanting to make it again. But if I do, I’ll use canola or something else un-green.

The second reason I was interested in that 19th-century recipe was that Susannah Reese, the main character in “Teacups and Lies,” was treated to a meal at the Old English Tea Room in a nearby town. She had never experienced mayonnaise before and remarked on it to her companion. He explained that it was time-consuming and difficult to make, and that the restaurant’s chef had learned to make it in Paris.

The recipe I made back in the 70s was much simpler than this. But here, for your enjoyment, is the recipe for French Mayonnaise from the 1895 cookbook:

French Mayonnaise.—The yolks of 6 raw eggs—beat very light and add very slowly (drop by drop) a goblet of best olive oil, beat until it becomes as thick as mush; boil 6 eggs, mash the yolks and mix with a teacup of weak vinegar, an even tablespoon of mustard salt, one of red pepper, one of sugar, one of salt; mix all well together. Put on fire a clean skillet, melt a piece of butter size of walnut, pour into the pan all of the above (both raw and cooked egg mixture), and stirring carefully, let it come to a brisk boil, and thicken slightly. Remove and place in glass jar.

Yum! Doesn’t that make you want to rush to the kitchen and get started?!

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