Coffee heat rising

Gimme that ole-time real food…

The other day when I was over at M’hijito’s house, he served up a couple of artichokes with some Trader Joe’s organic mayonnaise. Out of curiosity, I read the label. And to my amazement: no sugar!

Hallelujah! Next time I was in the vicinity of TJ’s, I ran in and bought a jar for myself. It’s the first time in years I’ve seen real mayonnaise come out of a bottle. And the flavor? Exactly like mayo used to taste, back in the Pleistocene when men were men, dinosaurs were dinosaurs, and food was really food.

Yeah. I know. Best Foods—Hellman’s in the East—claims to dish up “real mayonnaise.” And once they did make real mayo. But…read the label. It’s full of sugar. Has been for decades; even more so since 2006, when they changed the recipe.

What happened was Miracle Whip. This vile concoction, a hangover from the Great Depression, was peddled during the 1950s with a great flurry of publicity and perky new-fangled TV advertising. Yum yum! I remember the girlish excitement around the stuff. All of a sudden, everyone was dolloping it onto their Jell-O salads. Next thing you knew, you couldn’t find a sandwich with a schmear of genuine mayonnaise on it. Everyone wanted the sweet, gunky Miracle Whip. To compete, Best Foods was forced to sweeten its own mayonnaise. That’s my theory, anyway.

Mayo is supposed to be a savory condiment, not sweet goop.

Consequently, I haven’t bought mayo in years. If I need it, I make it. But it’s a hassle, so most of the time I do without. So I was pleased to find some real mayo in a jar.

What is it about Corporate Foodarama that it’s so determined to cram sugar down our throats? Have you noticed how many things that aren’t sweet and aren’t supposed to be sweet are doped with sugar or corn syrup? Things like rye bread, for example. Rye bread doesn’t need sugar to rise, and it doesn’t need sugar to taste like rye bread. There’s absolutely zero point in dosing a loaf of rye bread with high-fructose corn syrup.

The other day, preparatory to starting back on Atkins, I bought a package of tasty-looking bratwurst at Costco. Naively, I failed to read the ingredients until after I got home and busted open the plastic wrap, tossed a couple in a frying pan, and watched caramel form on the bottom of the hot pan as the brats cooked. Grab the package, read. Less than halfway down the list: corn syrup. So all those things had to go into the freezer until after the ten pounds are gone from the belly.

Corn syrup. In the brats. Eeeew! Why??? Brats don’t contain sugar. Or honey. Or corn syrup. What makes them taste sweetish is mace, allspice, and marjoram. Actually, the predominant flavor in Costco’s brats was salt. Lots of salt.

Are we really so divorced from our food that we don’t even know what food is supposed to taste like? Does Big Food really have to dose every bite we eat with sugar to get us to swallow it? Well…probably, given what’s in some of that stuff.

I was entertained to discover this morning that my fellow food cranks and I have made the Big Time: Nicholas Kristof reports that the President’s Cancer Panel, “the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream,” is about to issue a report urging Americans to seek out organic foods and avoid the pollutants that are ubiquitous in everything we eat and drink. Contemplating the 300 chemicals that have been found in the umbilical cord blood of newborn infants, the panel’s members remark that “to a disturbing extent, babies are born pre-polluted.”

No kidding?

The panel recommends that you and I practice caution about what we ingest and rub on our skin. They suggest filtering water and storing it in glass, not plastic, containers; buying organic foods when possible; avoiding meats that are cooked well-done; and checking radon levels in our homes.

Okay, we don’t eat radon.

But we do eat sugar. To my mind it’s just one of a whole passel of undesirable chemicals that pollute our food and our beverages.

5 thoughts on “Gimme that ole-time real food…”

  1. Oh, I don’t really think that the white stuff they sell in (unrefrigerated!!) jars–that stuff that never separates–is mayonnaise. Mayonnaise has what? 3,4 ingredients. Eggs, oil, vinegar and some folks add mustard. Um. . .but if you make your own, you better not leave it unrefrigerated in a jar or sitting around. Something is just wrong with that other stuff.

    I guess it is wrong and scary that so many things available for consumption have sugar–but sugar is definitely not the creepiest additive in most foods. Silent killers, I say.

    I’m glad that the mainstream may be shifting towards the understanding that eating like that is no good. I think about the way we eat in France: meats, fats, yes, but also pastries, breads. . basically everything that could make you fat. The thing is (up until recently anyway) people tend to make things from scratch–like mayonnaise and salad dressing, for example. Or they might buy pastries from the pastry shop and sausages from the butcher. I often wonder if it’s not the fact that you eat a sausage or a pastry that makes you fat, but the fact that there is so much strange junk in our food these days. . .

  2. Yes. I think one issue, too, is that the French don’t load up their plates the way Americans do. Unless things have changed. My French friends from years back used to be astonished at the sheer amount of food Americans eat.

    I’ve never had home-made mayo separate, even after leaving it in the fridge a day or two. But I make it in a blender instead of whisking it, which could explain that. TJ’s mayo contains expeller-expressed soybean oil, water, egg yolks, whole eggs, white vinegar, white mustard, and lemon juice. Except for the fact that I normally use a mix of olive oil and corn oil, there’s nothing in it that I wouldn’t use to make my own.

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