The Japanese Make the Best Things

Sometimes I think the Italians make the best things. And then I change my mind, and decide it’s actually the Mexicans who make the best things. Other times, I’m pretty darned sure it’s the Japanese.

This is one of those times.

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Of course, it all depends on what you are talking about. If you’re discussing cheese, for example, it’s hard to make a case that anyone does it better than the French.

This time, I’m talking about mayonnaise — one of the pillars of this very blog!

Now, it would be logical to think that the French also do the best mayonnaise — it’s a French word, after all! And who but the French could’ve taken their dainty little whisk, drizzled some oil into an egg yolk, and created such a magical emulsification!? I’m not adverse to Best Foods, though Trader Joe’s has been my mayo go-to for at least the past two decades. And I’ve long been proud of my own version (or versions) of the condiment. But that was all before Kewpie.

Kewpie. Like the doll. But mayonnaise.

It comes in a little plastic squirt tube with a Kewpie doll on the cellophane wrapping. Once you take that off, there is no branding at all. But simply 350 grams of pure emulsified bliss.

What makes it so good? I don’t know. Something about the ultra creamy umami-ness, with just a hint of mustardy tart. What is the mayo’s relationship to the early 20th-century bisque doll whose name it has appropriated? Also unclear, as the link to the Japanese corporate headquarters describes it: “Kewpie is 1919 since the establishment of “quality first” has been committed to. Meantime, have long been important to the product you are looking forward to.”

I did discover on the corporate website that the mayonnaise was first produced in 1925, not long after the advent of the doll.

Kewpie, the doll

Kewpie, the doll

I have turned many of my friends on to Kewpie. And inevitably, I later see it in their fridge, too — even though, were you not a frequenter of Japanese markets like I, it is not easy to find. I have also begun gifting it to people on very special occasions. I might gift it to you, should I see fit…

Today I stirred some into a cole slaw I was preparing the serve alongside the lobster rolls I was making for lunch. And it was the best cole slaw ever. My favorite application for Kewpie is squirted onto a simple salami sandwich on soft white Italian bread. Or as a dipping sauce for a cold artichoke. Or…

My pal Steve was over the other day, rifling around in my cupboard for something to snack on. His hand absent-mindedly found its way into a bag of Japanese rice crackers, a few of which he popped into his mouth. A look of epiphanic wonder spread from his mouth across his face.

What are those!??”

The Japanese do make the best things.

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ant Patty
    Jan 27, 2017 @ 02:49:12

    You made lobster rolls for lunch and didn’t invite me? Shame on you…

    Reply

  2. Mom
    Jan 29, 2017 @ 00:39:18

    You tell him Ant Patty, no respect.

    Reply

  3. Chef Jessica Baker | Seattle Cheap Eats
    Jan 30, 2017 @ 20:36:58

    There’s a pretty big Asian market here, I’ll have to look around and see if I can find this mayo!

    Reply

  4. Lori Koefoed
    Jan 30, 2017 @ 21:29:13

    After reading this, I made a pilgrimage to the local Japanese market to get me some of that creamy umami-ness. I can’t wait to try it 😊

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Jan 30, 2017 @ 22:19:57

      My friend! You have no idea how much we miss you!!! 😥 Knowing you’ll be eating Kewpie mayonnaise makes me feel better.

      Reply

      • Lori Koefoed
        Feb 01, 2017 @ 22:09:18

        We miss you, too!!! Somehow your blog has been a source of comfort for me…I like seeing some familiar faces and reminiscing about the good ol’ days in Topanga, sniff. And now I’m inspired by Kewpie mayonnaise : )

  5. Trackback: The Japan Series: An Ode to Ika | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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