Friday, January 09, 2009

Curried Mayonnaise of Vegetables, 1917.

I have been considering the history of bouillon cubes recently, to determine what role they will play in my forthcoming book Soup: A Global History. In my own growing-up life in the North of England, with my dear mother who hated cooking, there was only one player – the OXO cube.

The OXO company developed out of the nineteenth century Liebig Extract of Meat Company. The little foil-wrapped cubes that I remember from my childhood developed out of the liquid extract, but OXO had already indisputably been part of the British food tradition for many decades. The history of the company itself is worthy of a blog post, but today because of time constraints I want to go straight to an interesting recipe. It comes from a product advertisement during World War I, from a newspaper dated December 12, 1917. The ad urges the use of OXO ‘To make many inexpensive delicious dishes which will to a great extent take the place of a meat course, and help to save rations.’

Curried Mayonnaise of Vegetables.
Ingredients: Cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, spinach, carrots, onion (about 2 lb in all.) 2 teaspoonfuls of OXO, 2 oz. dripping, 1 dessertspoonful of curry powder, a small piece of butter, 1 teaspoonful of flour, salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice.
Cut all the vegetables into neat pieces, mix them together. Melt the dripping in a frying-pan and add the vegetables. Toss them about in the pan until they are thoroughly hot. Then dissolve the OXO in a little hot water, and mix with the curry powder, stir into the vegetables. Add a piece of butter and a dust of flour, and stir until all are well mixed. Season with salt and a sprinkle of lemon juice just before serving. Send to table with a dish of nicely boiled rice.

What intrigued me about this recipe (it was certainly no anticipated deliciousness!) was the name – ‘mayonnaise’ as a noun referring to a dish thickened with flour! Anyone else seen the word used this way?

Quotation for the Day …

Mayonnaise: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.
Ambrose Bierce.


SometimesKate said...

I suppose enough curry sauce would mask the general taste, but I"m glad I'm not needing to be that frugal. (I'm not a fan of cauliflower) I've never seen mayonnaise used as a flour-thickened sauce, but I know that I ran across a recipe once for mayonnaise that included flour.

Which reminds me, my mother used to make what she called, "banana salad". It was an old recipe she said. You slice bananas in half long-wise, smear them with mayonnaise thinned very slightly with milk, then sprinkle on chopped black walnuts. I'm not sure where the salad part comes in, unless it's the mayonnaise.

srhcb said...

I hadn't thought of this in many years but my Aunt Ginny, (the local Queen of bridge parties), used to make a "banana salad". I seem to recall she cut the bananas into round slices, although may have just been for childrens' ease of eating?

Here's a recipe that looks a lot like hers:,1743,159183-239201,00.html

Rochelle R. said...

I am sure a lot of foodies would sneer at the idea of using bouillon cubes to make chicken broth for a recipe, but I do it. It always tastes fine to me. They are easy to store and very inexpensive. That does seem like an odd use of the word mayonnaise.

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

It's amazing how the usage of words changes over time, isn't it?

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Everyone: sorry for the belated responses.
A friend told me of an avocado and banana salad they had been served recently - I love both ingredients, but together? not enough textural difference. Sounded awful I thought.
I love the way that words change over time, but in the case of this use of the word 'mayonnaise' I think it is an example of gross misunderstanding and misuse, not evolution of the language! Isnt it? Or is it the same process as the old use of the word "mango" to describe a pickle?

Shay said...

I have not seen the word mayonnaise used as you describe, but I have several older cookbooks with recipes for "mayonnaise" that are roux-based.