There are few ingredients under the sun as culinarily divisive as mayonnaise. Those who dislike it can barely stomach it. Those of us who like it understand that there are places where it is absolutely indispensable -- the BLT, the tuna melt, pimento cheese, French onion dip and spinach artichoke dip -- it is possible that my bias has already been revealed here. Look, if you hate mayonnaise, I'm not going to convince you here that it is one of our better inventions as a society of cooks and eaters. However, if you generally tolerate/eat mayonnaise, but occasionally get weirded out by its placement and application, take a few deep breaths and travel down this rabbit hole with us.
First, a few things to get out of the way: 1) the idea that mayonnaise is incredibly unhealthy. Listen, is mayonnaise a health product? No. Is it duck fat? Is it motor oil? No. It is egg yolks, a bit of vinegar and salt and oil. Don't DRINK the stuff, but a little in moderation will be okay. 2) The idea that there are just some foods that it is "yucky" to put mayo on. Guys, grow up, okay? It's a miracle that someone discovered you could emulsify egg yolks and oil like this. Let's celebrate it, not put it in a box. There are all kinds of ways people use mayonnaise with great success that some of us never think of. Let's put a stop to it. Ready?
1. Elote (Mexican Street Corn) We're easing you in, because we bet some of you have had this delight. Grill an ear of corn, slather it with mayo, sprinkle the whole thing with cotija cheese, chile powder and lime juice. This is summer on a stick. Get the Mexico City-Style Street Corn recipe.
2. French Fries The Belgians, the Dutch, the French -- they've all figured out that this is one of the best combinations on earth. Try it, you'll like it. (Photo via Flickr user ruffin_ready.)
3. Grilled Cheese There are some people who put mayo inside their grilled cheese. You can do that if you want, but we're here to talk about the scores of advocates for spreading mayo on the outside of the bread, instead of butter, before griddling. If you are a fan of crispy bread, you owe it to yourself to give this a try.
4. Baste Fish With It Before Broiling Okay, deep breaths everyone. We eat mayonnaise with fish all the time -- the ubiquitous tuna sandwich, tartar sauce with fish and chips, LOBSTER ROLLS -- so don't get all shivery on me. When you baste fish with mayo before you broil it, the egg and oil protect the fish from drying out and losing flavor. They also add richness and get a little crispy on top. Get the Chipotle Mayonnaise Tilapia recipe.
5. Tomato Sandwiches BEHOLD. The glory of the tomato and mayo sandwich. This has to be eaten in peak tomato season, when tomatoes are the best food on earth. Impassioned instructions by a tomato sandwich devotee can be found here. Get the Best Tomato Sandwich recipe from Food52.
6. Bouillabaisse With Rouille Never met rouille (pronounced roo-wee)? It's a spicy, saffron infused mayo that you dollop into Provencal fish stew. The French know what's up with mayo, guys. Get the Spicy Rouille recipe.
7. Homemade Ranch Dressing That's right, kids. Ranch dressing, and its beautiful cousin, homemade buttermilk dressing, are made with mayonnaise. I haven't proven this scientifically, but I'm pretty sure that if you make someone amazing buttermilk dressing they'll be your friend forever. Get the Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe from Bev Cooks.
8. Dip For Artichokes Everyone loves melted butter. But sometimes having another thing to dip artichoke leaves in is really great. Variety is the spice, dudes. Get the Steamed Artichokes With Eggless Basil Mayonnaise Dip recipe from Food52. (You can also, obviously use regular egg-filled mayo for this recipe.)
9. Completo (Chilean-Style Hot Dog) In Chile, hot dogs get topped with more than mustard and sauerkraut. The completo usually includes tomatoes, avocado and mayonnaise, but that is really just the beginning. (Photo via Flickr user Helga's Lobster Stew.)
10. Pizza In truth, we think eating mayo on pizza is as weird as you do. But hundreds of thousands of people in Japan, Malaysia and beyond can't be totally wrong, right? Let's keep an open mayo-mind here. (Photo via Flickr user tjsander.)
11. Cake Yes. It's come to this. Mayonnaise cake. Here is the deal with this: you would normally add eggs and sometimes oil to cake batter. Plus a pinch of salt. Vinegar, maybe not so much. But what we're saying is that a mayonnaise cake, while sounding like the worst thing on earth, may actually totally work. We've heard good things. We're going to try it. If you'll do it too. I mean just look at that thing. How could it not be delicious? Get the Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake recipe from A Cozy Kitchen.