My mom just recently celebrated her 101st birthday. (It's still weird to say that.)
As people do when they get older, she repeats stories that she particularly likes or maybe it's that the memory gets fresher as time passes. Either way, as her birthday approached, she would tell the story of her 15th birthday.
In Cuba, as in other spanish-language countries, the 15th birthday is a Big Deal. It's the quinceañera, people!
For her 15th birthday, which she celebrated in 1929, she received a few gifts from her mother and great aunts. This day might have been lost down the memory hole, but for the other gift that she received that day, which was this photograph.
Her gifts were that beautiful Spanish Comb in her hair and the mantilla she's wearing. She also remembers vividly one of her aunts making her a big jar of delicious homemade mayonnaise.
This is the memory that stops her in her tracks. She gets this dreamy look on her face as she time travels back to the taste of The Best, Most Delicious Homemade Mayonnaise. It was made with olive oil and eggs and a squeeze of lemon and apparently it was to die for.
I've heard the Quinceañera and Mayonnaise story a million times. And as we were approaching her 101st birthday, I was at a loss for what to get her as a gift. I wanted it to be special.
Wait. What if I made homemade mayonnaise?
I wanted to make it simple, but I wanted the flavor to be exquisite. It's a simple process, but it's also a science experiment that can quickly go wrong if the ingredients don't emulsify well.
Luza's Homemade Mayonnaise
- 1 egg yolk (at room temperature – very important!)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (I went with a Meyer lemon for color and flavor)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 cup olive oil (I used garlic infused avocado oil for a lighter flavor)
- Salt to taste (I like kosher salt)
- Container for the mayonnaise, preferably with a top, like a mason jar
1) Place egg yolk, lemon juice, water, and mustard in jar.
2) Slowly pour over olive oil and gently whisk together. I used a whisk at the beginning, but traded up to an immersion blender towards the end.
What you're looking for is for the emulsification which is a fancy word for "when it thickens up."
3) Season with kosher salt to taste. Can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 weeks.
NOTE: It came out that dark yellow color because I used a Meyer lemon and organic egg yolks which tend to have more color. The taste was worth it.
Full disclosure: The unthinkable happened. It didn't emulsify on the first round.
I HAD BROKEN THE MAYONNAISE! I collapsed into a defeated mess. After all that careful choosing of the perfect ingredients and careful blending, I had failed. *sigh*
Thank goodness for Google, my self-esteem (and the mayonnaise) were not beyond repair.
Here's a tip: If your mayonnaise doesn't emulsify, get another clean bowl into which you add 2 room temperature egg yolks and a teaspoon of cold water.
Now, add your broken mayonnaise to that and blend away. At this point I used the immersion blender because I was starting to feel a little superstitious, but that's not important right now.
Hallelujah! It worked!
My mom loved it. She was thrilled that I remembered the story. (Which, of course, was easy, because she's told it a bizzillion times, but that's not important right now.)
The party was a great success as we celebrated her 101 years on this earth. She was surrounded by those she loves most and it was a super happy day.
Are you looking for a perfect gift for your 101 year old parent? May I suggest a jar of homemade mayonnaise?