Mahon and mayonnaise
Take oil, egg yolks, vinegar and salt. Break the eggs and place the yolks in a bowl, add a little vinegar and salt. Proceed to beat well, steadily, and when you see that it is stiffening, pour the oil in a very thin jet to produce the emulsion and the mayonnaise. This is the simple recipe for the manual preparation of one of the sauces most used in the world and whose origin has been a major headache for scholars of these things since the early twentieth century.
The prevailing theory on the origin of mayonnaise has one cardinal year: 1756. At that time France invades the port of Mahon, on Minorca, and the then Duke of Richilie, Louis François Armand du Plessis, wanders the city in the early hours of the morning. With his stomach grumbling, our distinguished tourist walks into a tavern and asks for something to eat. As the bartender had but a few scraps of meat, he decided to try to fix it somehow and put on a sauce that delighted the Duke’s palate. The nobleman took note of the recipe, took it to France, where they removed the garlic from this aioli to give it the name of 'Mahonnaise'. Literally, 'from Mahon'.
Great thinkers like Camilo José Cela or Josep Pla have devoted their efforts to mayonnaise, its origins and the Duke of Richilie. While the former was a proponent of the idea of Richilie, Pla argued that the reference to this sauce is made in the text of Lancelot in 1625, a fact which shows that it already existed before the conquest of the Minorcan port.
“Dans votre bol en porcelaine,
Un jaune d'oeuf étant placé,
Sel, poivre, du vinaigre a peine,
Et le travail est commencé.
L'huile se verse goutte a goutte,
La mayonnaise prend du corps”
Cela answers, according to a French lexicologist named Antoine Adam, that the voices used in the poem are typical of the nineteenth century.
Leaving aside its origin, mayonnaise is now one of those sauces that touch all levels of society. Whether one goes for fast food or the best and finest fish, you can always emulate the Duke of Richilie in Mahon and dress your food with mayonnaise, regardless of whether one is an advocate of Cela or Pla’s theory.
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