Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sometimes I have a tendency to obsess to excess.

After having “proof read” this post I feel I should begin by mentioning that I am not sponsored by any product I am about to wax on for several very long paragraphs, but should my preferred company happen to read this I would be very happy to become a spokesperson. I am really quite thin and attractive and would make an excellent face for the franchise to expand.

This is a post about Mayonnaise.

To be specific Dukes Mayonnaise.

To those of you not from the south this may seem like more of my insane ramblings, but not all mayonnaise is created equal. At the very bottom of the tub you have your mayowhips/mayo, basically any mayonnaise where they cant be bothered to spell out the word “Mayonnaise”. Above this you have your whipped mayonnaise, while having proper branding a whipped mayonnaise much like a whipped cream cheese fails to satisfy. Only slightly above this are your average store/off brands, while often economical and usually not terrible these are often too sweet or are slightly off texture wise. One of the most commonly available and more acceptable brands is Hellmann's, none of that light nonsense mind you because light just ain't right, but Hellmanns is a pretty good mayonnaise. They have the texture down, just the right amount of sweetness. Being recognized as on of the first brands of mayonnaise to be bottled and sold commercially, however, I would expect nothing less.

This is not, however, a post about any of these inferior mayonnaises. No this is a post about the Ruler of Mayonnaise. One might be inclined to call it the Duke of Mayonnaise, in fact that is pretty close to what it is since it is Duke's Mayonnaise.  Dukes Mayonnaise was created in 1917 in Greenville, South Carolina a fact which is completely non-essential for this story, beyond the fact that this makes it until recently available almost exclusively in the south, which is relevant.

When I was a kid my family (my mom and thus the rest of us) were vegetarians, something I did not necessarily enjoy. Especially since when ever I was with my Grandparents I was allowed to eat meat. So when this vegetarian ban was lifted by my moving in with my Grandmother (who like most grandmothers to their grandsons is quite possibly the greatest woman to have ever entered my life) at the age of eight I developed an almost unhealthy obsession with turkey sandwiches.

To me the art of making the sandwich was almost as important as eating it. From the bottom one would start with a slice of home made bread (did I mention how amazing my grandmother is? She seriously made bread every weekend so I could use it to make my sandwiches during the week.) only slightly toasted, just enough so that outside of the bread was crisp and had a bit of crunch to it, but not enough to take away from the soft texture that only the best bread can have. Then you would take two pieces of lettuce making sure to only have a slight amount of overhang. This was followed by pickles, it was very important to go lettuce then pickles otherwise your bread would get soggy. Then five slices of turkey breast, followed by one slice of provolone cheese. And finally you would put a large dollop of Duke's Mayonnaise on the top slice of bread enough so that when you squeezed it down atop the sandwich it would almost run over and drip out. This my friends is the perfect turkey sandwich.

After I moved back in with my mom the homemade bread would be replaced by an everything bagel. But the key ingredients remained the same. Right up until 1999 when my family made the wacky decision of moving to Fauquier, prior to this I had lived predominantly in Richmond where Duke's was in every store, and in Vienna/Fairfax City where at the time it was available if you looked. In this new setting though it seemed to be part of the south Duke's was horrifically missing, and I was forced to settle on blue ribbon (hellmann's). At first this was a hard change for me, one that bothered me each and every time I ate a sandwich, coleslaw, broccoli or eggs (yes I used to put mayonnaise on my broccoli and eggs).

As time went by, however, I slowly began to forget about my childhood love affair with Duke's Mayonnaise. Reminiscing on it from time to time when a discussion of premier condiments was raised. For a point I even believed that Duke's must surely have been discontinued, having bounced around the state and country and not seeing it available. This was until tonight, when while shopping for my new sandwich obsession (tuna fish gross I know but it is so Delicious) I noticed proudly displayed in the mayonnaise section Duke's Mayonnaise needless to say I immediately was filled with a sense of both longing and nostalgia and though I have half a container of the inferior Hellmann's at home I purchased a one qt bottle of this manna from the southern gods and took it to a loving home.

The question of course at this point being does Duke's Mayonnaise, live up to my childhood memories or will it like the playground behind Flint Hill Elementary school let me down after all these years. The answer is no, no it does not. Its texture, leaves nothing to be desired, it is the perfect balance of being creamy without being to heavy and bogging the sandwich down. And as remembered it is not a sweet mayonnaise, instead having a subtle taste that adds that perfect kick to the taste buds but doesn't leave a lingering aftertaste. It balances out my simple turkey sandwich. although over the years I have also come to enjoy adding shredded carrots to the mix from time to time, and using the pickles that are long slices instead of the little circles. This is my childhood in edible form, and oh my is it delicious.

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