Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You'll Hate Me For This...

I tried all day to resist posting this tale, but I just couldn't hold back anymore. 15 more minutes and it would have been moved to the Irrelevant pile for another year. Damn my lack of self-control!!

Mayonnaise was invented in 1756 by the French chef of the Duc de Richelieu. After Duc de Richelieu beat the British at Port Mahon, his chef created a victory feast that was to include a sauce made of cream and eggs. Realizing that there was no cream in the kitchen, the chef substituted olive oil for the cream and a new culinary creation was born. The chef named the new sauce "Mahonnaise" in honor of Richelieu's victory.

We, of course, know this today as mayonnaise. Love it or loathe it, it's used for sandwiches, salads, hair conditioning and even lubrication. (of Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby car axles, you pervs! Get your minds out of the gutter!)

Did you know that 'Mahonnaise' was responsible for a holiday? It's true! When the Emperor Maximilian* took power in Mexico, he brought not only the French Foreign Legion into Mexico, but also French culture and cuisine. The Mexican nationals were enchanted by the new food flavors and techniques. They were especially enthusiastic about mayonnaise and hollandaise, the emulsified sauces so different from their salsas and molés.

Alas, when Maximilian was toppled from power, the supply of olive oil for the mayonnaise waned. Soon it became just a treasured memory. In the days before refrigeration, attempts to store mayonnaise in the Central American heat failed, often leaving many ill with food poisoning. 

Finally a solution appeared! In 1912, a New York deli owner named Richard Hellman was able to pack mayonnaise in glass jars, allowing it to be safely transported and stored. The Mexican ambassador to the U.S. purchased a large amount, in excess of 12,000 jars, to be distributed across Mexico. Arrangements were made with Huerta, Zapata, Madero and Pancho Villa (in the midst of a civil war!) to honor a cease-fire so the delicacy could be shipped safely.

The mayonnaise was loaded aboard a steamship departing from New York harbor and destined for Veracruz. All Mexico waited in anticipation. Tragically, the ship encountered heavy seas, and foundered off the coast of Jamaica, consigning the entire shipment to the briny deep.

The Mexican people were devastated, and swore to always mark the occasion of the tragedy, which is why to this day the Mexican people still have a day of remembrance...

Sinko De Mayo!

*Yes, I am aware he is a Hapsburg from Austria, but he was put in power thanks to Napoleon III. Don't nitpick a joke, dammit!
Hope you enjoyed the joke! It's not mine, but I spiffed up the story a bit!