At least four legends exist as to the origin of mayonnaise, which is basically an emulsion of oil, eggs, vinegar, lemon juice, and seasonings. My personal favorite gives credit to the ingenuity of the chef of the Duc de Richelieu. In 1756 when he was preparing a rich sauce of eggs and cream, he discovered he had no cream, so he substituted olive oil. After carefully beating, whipping and seasoning, he served his culinary concoction, which he named "Mahonnaise" in the duke's honor.
A second legend credits the creation to a chef in Bayonne, France, where the sauce was called "Bayonnaise." No one knows why the "B" later evolved into an "M."
Another possibility is that the word "mayonnaise" comes from the old French word, "moyeunaise," derived from "moyeu," or yolk, an essential ingredient in making mayonnaise.
No matter which theory you choose to believe, there is no question that mayonnaise was a French invention of the 18th century, the golden age of French cuisine.
The flavor of homemade mayonnaise is incomparable, and you will be surprised how easy it is to make. It is no longer necessary to whisk mayonnaise by hand, if you prefer to use a mixer, blender, or food processor.
Mayonnaise is not just for salads. It is often a basic ingredient in sauces, both hot and cold. Mayonnaise is delicious spread on fish before baking or broiling, or with cold poached fish.
If properly stabilized, homemade mayonnaise will remain fresh and creamy in the refrigerator for at last a week. For each cup of compeleted mayonnaise, beat in 2 tablespoons of boiling water or the same amount of chicken or beef stock. Mayonnaise (using whisk or mixer) 1 egg yolk Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 1 teaspoon imported mustard, preferably Dijon or Dusseldorf 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice 3/4 to 1 cup peanut, vegetable, or olive oil
Place yolk in a mixing bowl and add salt and pepper to taste, mustard, and vinegar or lemon juice. Blend well.
Gradually add oil while beating vigorously with whisk or electric beater. When approximately half of the oil has been added, the remaining oil can be added more rapidly.
Taste and add more salt, vinegar, or lemon juice, if needed. If mayonnaise seems too thick, thin by beating in a little cold water. Makes 1 cup. Blender Mayonnaise
Using the same amounts, place egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice or vinegar, salt , and pepper in the blender or in food processor equipped with steel blade.
Turn motor on and immediately begin adding oil in a thin stream. When all the oil has been added and mixture has thickened, turn off machine. Mayonnaise Variations
Mustard Mayonnaise -- Mix 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard into prepared mayonnaise.
Curry Mayonnaise -- Blend 1/2 teaspoon curry powder into prepared mayonnaise.
Russian Mayonnaise -- Mix 1/4 cup black of red caviar, 1/2 cup soar cream, and 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill with prepared mayonnaise.
Thousand Island Dressing -- Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons chili sauce, 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish, and 1 tablespoon chopped green pepper.
Fruit Mayonnaise for Fruit Salads -- Beat into prepared mayonnaise 3 tablespoons each orange juice, superfine sugar, 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel, and pinch of nutmeg.