I do not remember the mayonnaise of my childhood with kind words. I told my mother that she could slather the mostly tasteless white substance on Tim and Mark’s lunch meat all she wanted. But as for me, I maintained a firm position of mustard loyalty during my formative years.
I never understood how anybody could partake of the mayonnaise of my motherland. The premise of that particular mayonnaise’s marketing campaign was based on the supernatural. The brand name even spoke of the miraculous. However, I only found bitter disappointment of a very earthly variety in the rare moments when my lunch box was confused with Tim or Mark’s.
As my train slowly moved towards the Urals in early January of 1995, I had no idea that my understanding of this most basic building block of sandwiches and salads would undergo a paradigm shift of Renaissance proportions in a very short period of time.
Since I was a young man making my first international trip (Canada clearly does not count), I fearlessly smeared my bread with some Russian mustard. I had already learned quite quickly that most Russian food tastes something like boiled potatoes or something very much like white bread. But it was in that very same moment that I learned that Russian mustard has a flavor somewhat akin to the flavor you would have on your tongue if you inadvertently split an atom between your incisors while biting into your opened faced sardine sandwich. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Russian mustard is kind of like a banya for your nostrils. It was like the entire world of Russian cuisine was making up for its otherwise simple and mild mannered existence in one small tube of yellow sandwich spread.
As tears rolled down my cheeks, I pined for a single comforting nibble of the midday fare that could be found in Tim or Mark’s happy lunchbox. And I was forced into comprehending that perhaps I should be more open minded to that white sauce I had rued for so many years. Perhaps it was time for me to pay a visit to the Mayo Clinic of Russia. If you will.
After I Ate The Russian Mustard, Here Are The Top Three Things I Have Learned About The Miraculous Mayonnaise Of Russia:
1) It Tastes Pretty Good And It Includes Raw Eggs. I was at a friend’s house once and, without a care in the world, she said, “Oh, I’ll make some mayonnaise!”. That was when I learned that The Miraculous Mayonnaise Of Russia includes raw eggs. It had been pounded into my conscience since an early age that raw eggs were the cause of Plague, Famine, and Sundry Blight. A simple glimpse of raw eggs was paramount to staring at metal being welded together or cracking your knuckles. And here my friend was cheerfully throwing this most dangerous ingredient into a mixer, and soon after we were putting it into our mouths. And as we rushed headlong into impending disaster, I understood that this white sauce was not the mayonnaise of my childhood. This Miraculous Mayonnaise of Russia was a party in my mouth.
And the resulting epiphany? The reason the Mayonnaise of Russia is Miraculous is precisely because it is made out of raw eggs. And then I had another revelation. The “mayonnaise” of my childhood was not mayonnaise at all. That phony condiment held no supernatural properties. It was an imposter composed entirely of chemical content.
2) Jars? Why? Sometimes Russia impresses the world by sending a man for the first time into outer space or arguably inventing the radio. Or sometimes the toilet in your hotel room is not working. If you know what I mean. And sometimes Russians demolish all commonly held understanding and glue wallpaper on the ceiling. If you know what I mean.
And here, my fellow Americans, I charge you with this question. Is your ketchup in a squeeze bottle? What about your ballpark mustard? Can you now even find pickle relish in a squeeze bottle? Then I beg of you, why was it that during my childhood, every mayonnaise laden experience involved a trip to the silverware drawer?
To be fair, the Miraculous Mayonnaise of Russia is not found in a squeeze bottle. It is a squeeze bag. No shaking or pounding to get this delicious spread to ooze forth. Simple smooth squeezing will do.
And through the miracle of modern architectural understanding, this bag of white goodness has been designed to be able to stand and balance within a support base, without the aid of any outside structure.
3) Not Just For Sandwiches. You thought that mayonnaise was for sandwiches and for salads.
You are right, but you are operating within very limited understanding. The Miraculous Mayonnaise of Russia is something like duct tape in the United States. It is the quick fix for any culinary presentation. No bowl of soup is complete without a liberal squirt of white happiness. Meat dumplings? Yes, Miraculous Mayonnaise, please! What about that sad mound of lonely buckwheat? Pass the squirt bag, pronto!
And now I implore you, get on your feet. Go to the store. There may be only two or three types of toothpaste on the shelves of your Russian neighborhood convenience store. But the Wall of Mayonnaise stretches endlessly forward, beckoning you to your Manifest Mayo Destiny, and triggering Magical Imaginations of how a simple condiment housed in a plastic sack can make your lunch, oh I don’t know, Miraculous?