Friday, July 30, 2010

Mayonnaise Halachah (& Recipes)

Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parashath Eiqev 5770

My mother always used to tell me (p’saq din perhaps?) that...

“Jews may use mayonnaise in only three recipes: tuna salad, egg salad, and potato salad.”

Mayonnaise was a non-Jewish condiment; mustard was a Jewish condiment. Then what about Ketchup? Ketchup was universal. After all, American Jews and non-Jews alike ate French Fries, right?

Imagine my surprise when I first saw how much mayonnaise was stocked in the average Israeli grocery store! What they use it for?! They couldn't possibly be eating tuna salad, egg salad, and potato salad THAT often. Could they?

I quickly learned about Babaganoush, an eggplant salad made with mayonnaise. Yep, I've heard of that.

Then, of course, mayonnaise was added to chopped liver to give it a smooth consistency. Yeah, I remember that.

I have also seen mayonnaise used as an ingredient in pareve (non-dairy/non-meat) sauces. OK. That makes sense, I suppose.

I have even seen friends dip gefilte fish in it (ew!), and add it to chrain to make “chrainaise.” OK. Whatever floats your boat.

Then I remembered putting mayonnaise on cheese sandwiches as a kid. But, I have yet to see that done in Israel.

I also remember that my mother would rub a little bit on the leaves of the house plants, something which I still do. It seems to be good for the plants, but I couldn't tell you why. I haven't seen that done in Israel either.

I'm sorry. But all of these minimal uses for mayonnaise cannot possibly account for all of the mayonnaise I see stocked in the stores. Can it?

So, what DOES all this mayonnaise in Israel get used for?

For now, I suppose that will have to remain one of life's little mysteries. In the meantime, I will provide you with my versions of tuna salad, egg salad, and potato salad. All three of these are standard fair for Shabbath Se'udath Shelishith (third meal), for the summer in general, and for school lunches. Kids will be going back to school before you know it!

I must also apologize in advance for my lack of exact ingredient amounts. In the tradition of my Great-Grandmother Lilly z”l, all of the quantities are “however much it needs.” Alright. I'll keep working on this.

NOTE: Ever since I was a kid, I have never been able to stand the consistency of chopped onions. Yet, I like the flavor. You may use clopped onions for these recipes if you like, but I prefer onion which has been pureed or onion powder. I also leave out black pepper, not because I do not like it, but because it does not sit well with. Black pepper would go well in any of these recipes.
Tuna Salad
onion power (optional)
Combine all of the ingredients, except for the tuna. I find it to be much easier this way. I use freshly grated garlic, but power works well, too. Fold in the tuna. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Great on slices of toasted hallah or fried pita or with pasta salad!

Egg Salad
hard boiled eggs
chopped parsley
chopped dill
onion power (optional)

Mash up the cooked yolks, keeping them as smooth or as chunky as you like. Mix in the spices, adding only a little of the dill. More can always be added later. Fold in the mayonnaise. Chop or food-process the whites, again as finely or as chunkily as you prefer. Fold in the prepared whites. Adjust the spicing. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

TIPS: When preparing eggs from the cholent, peel them, allow them to cool down before preparation, and taste a little first before deciding upon spices.

Potato Salad
boiled potatoes
puréed onion – not more than one onion for every five potatoes, start with a half an onion first, you can add more later
chopped parsley

Optional Ingredients:
chopped dill (Be careful not to use too much!)
grated carrot

Before boiling the potatoes, you may decide to peel them. I personally like to keep the peel on. However, more than one argument has been had over this rather contentious issue, even more than whether to squeeze the toothpaste from the middle or from the bottom of the tube. So, you may want to take a survey of your guests first. When in doubt, peel the potatoes.

Prepare the sauce first. Fold in the potatoes which have chopped according to preference. Add the peas and/or grated carrot if you like. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


*Feel free to list links to your recipes for any of the above in the comments section!

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