Why name your blog “Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise,” you may reasonably ask? Which leads me to a story that sums up why I decided to start a food blog in the first place. (NOT because I thought the world needed another.)
I live in the western part of Los Angeles, home to yoga studios and aspiring starlets. Over the years, rooming with skinny yoga students/aspiring starlets, dating skinny yoga students/aspiring starlets, chatting in coffee shops with skinny yoga students/aspiring starlets, I learned that they really liked quinoa and really hated mayonnaise. I really like mayonnaise. I think it’s the world’s greatest sauce. And I have serious reservations about quinoa. It’s the didgeridoo of grains. (Anyone who has seen a 40-year-old white guy playing a didgeridoo at a farmer’s market will understand what I mean…)
A favorite dish of mine is a Mexican corn on the cob — smeared with mayonnaise, a squeeze of lime, some chili powder, and grilled. I began to notice when we would have barbecue dinner parties, that the skinny girls would devour the corn with a fervor. “This is the best corn I’ve ever had!” they would say as they helped themselves to a second ear. “What did you do to it!?” And then I would drop the “m” bomb. And watch their faces go slack and gray. “M-m-mayonnaise???” they would murmur in horror. And I would explain that mayonnaise is not the Devil’s Condiment, nor would it prevent them from doing their sun salutations or making it to their auditions on time. Mayonnaise, I would say, is simply an emulsion of oil, vinegar and egg. The word “emulsion” would seem to put them at ease — they’d seen on a menu somewhere in relation to a salad.
Somewhere in a village in the South of Italy at this exact moment, an old man is dipping a freshly picked spear of asparagus into a garlicky aioli — a mayonnaise. And chasing it with a big sip of wine. He has never feared a mayonnaise, a roasted chunk of fatty pork from the pig raised on his land, the succulent flesh of a fish lifted earlier that morning from the ocean, or half a bottle of wine pressed from grapes that rose from this very terroir. He has lived to a ripe old age, without becoming obese or clogging his arteries. And he has enjoyed himself thoroughly. Until the advent of microwave ovens and Lean Cuisines, this is how the world had always eaten. This is the way we must eat again. Once, while doing a cooking demonstration for a publication that I served as editor for, I asked the great French chef Jacques Pepin what the most important advice he would have for the home cook would be. He said, “Open a bottle of wine, and enjoy yourself.” That, my friends, is what Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise is all about.