My recent post about “Bubba and the Masters” and “Biscuits or Cornbread?” reminded me how blest I am to be from the South. “Southern by the grace of God” is not a cliche in my family.
Having grown up in the land of peaches, peanuts, pecans, and pine trees…and yes, yellow pollen too, I have decided to share a few Reflections periodically over the next few months about “Living Southern.” A few years ago, I shared an email about a family dialogue/debate/argument about the most popular brand of mayonnaise. I think it’s worth sharing again.
All y’all enjoy it, ya hear!
Blue Plate Wins!
We Southerners love to argue. Whether it be SEC football, barbecue sauce recipes, who has the best friend chicken, politics or religion, we have an opinion. Bring up the subject, and we are want to persuade you to our side of the argument, or dad-gum, by the end of the conversation, you will, at least, be thoroughly familiar with our point of view.
Recently I discovered yet another topic the South is passionate about — namely Mayonnaise. I never thought I would write a sentence that included the words passionate and mayonnaise, but then I never thought anyone would question why the Blue Plate brand isn’t the best. Whether as a key ingredient in chicken salad, potato salad, deviled eggs or merely the condiment of choice for a good ole’ tomato sandwich, mayonnaise, or certain brands of it — I soon discovered — have a dedicated and loyal fan base.
Recently I stumbled across an article from the Cook’s Country website that chronicled a recent taste test for mayonnaise. The winner? Blue Plate, of course. Having been raised on this southern condiment, I was not surprised at all. Knowing that my daughter-in-law Rosemary favors a different brand (Duke’s), I could not resist the temptation to give her a mayo nose-rub touting the test results. My friendly nose-tweak, however, generated an immediate and passionate (there’s that word again) response not only from her but most of my children.
This sweet southern-bred daughter-in-law of mine was the first to pounce, referring to a Huffington Post article touting Duke’s as the South’s favorite mayonnaise.
I simply cannot let this silliness go unchecked.
Your son seems to share your taste in mayo, which is why our fridge contains two jars of mayo.
One holds the cheery, sunshine yellow label of my beloved Duke’s, the scion of southern mayos. It is the taste of my childhood slathered between white bread and thick slices of summer tomatoes. It was often the only reason a wiggly little fanny would sit still on a stool in my grandmother’s kitchen, eagerly anticipating a “taste test” of her famous potato salad still warm from the pot. Duke’s is what the other mayos aspire to be, though never quite measure up to scratch.
I feel sorry for taste buds that weren’t taught to love Duke’s. Apparently, I’m not the only one.
Their compromise reminded me that in Georgia when you say a house is divided, it is usually about one spouse blindly cheering for the Bulldogs while the more enlightened spouse roots for the Yellow Jackets. In the case of Rosemary and my son Joel, the condiment standoff involves mayonnaise.
Daughter Maggie had already waved her white flag and deferred to her husband’s taste buds; their fridge stocks only Duke’s. At this point, I realized I had neglected to add the mayonnaise question to my checklist for prospective suitors of my three Southern raised-on-Blue-Plate daughters. Too late now.
Daughter Mari recently moved to New Jersey. Her response calmed my spirit by confirming she had yet to fall prey to the ills of Northern culinary culture. “Dad, Blue Plate is nowhere to be found in Jersey. I shed a tear every time I have to buy Hellman’s…….” That’s my girl. Guess what she is getting for Christmas? I wonder if they sell Blue Plate by the case.
Daughter Taryn, the Registered Dietitian and Family Nutritionist, ever the health conscious sibling, reminded her brothers and sisters that this popular condiment is high in saturated fat, high in calories with little if any nutritional value. And while she does use mayo on an occasional sandwich, the small jar in her refrigerator “lasts forever!” When challenged on her brand of choice, she confessed to opting for either Blue Plate or Duke’s, whichever is cheapest. How can a dad argue with that?
What have I learned from this condimental dialogue? First, Blue Plate and Duke’s are genuinely beloved Southern versions of this country’s top-selling condiment. Blue Plate originated in Louisiana while Duke’s was first formulated in South Carolina. And Hellman’s? Well, hush your mouth, it is but a Northern imitation of a Southern delicacy. And do not get me started on the counterfeit version called Miracle Whip. For goodness sakes, even the FDA will not allow it to be described as mayonnaise; it is labeled a “Dressing” as it lacks the minimum level of vegetable oil required to be declared a mayonnaise.
The Mayo debate lives on. Whether the arguments are over brand or nutritional value, this egg-based sauce will continue to be beloved by some and reviled by others. For now, I will simply savor the survey results – Blue Plate Wins! — and ponder how to moderate my use of this culinary staple…….while I slather some Blue Plate on some white bread and fix myself a BLT.