I am not a picky eater. I was never even that bad as a kid, although I’m proud to say that I’ve outgrown almost everything I refused to eat growing up. There is just one last thing I cannot budge on, no matter how hard I try.
Mayonnaise is vile. I’m not even exaggerating when I say I start to have gag reactions when I simply see an unopened jar of the stuff. Even when I just think about the ingredients: eggs, vinegar, oil–I’m still grossed out. I would never put those things together and expect it to taste good. I recognize that my extreme aversion to mayo is absurd, but at the same time, it’s a pretty unhealthy substance, so I’m not necessarily motivated to try too hard to like it. Fortunately, I don’t have to challenge myself too often on this one because it’s pretty easy to avoid.
When I say things like “I wouldn’t eat a spoonful of mayonnaise for a million dollars,” or “I’d rather die than eat a spoonful of mayonnaise,” I really mean it when I say it. Of course, three tenths of a second later, when I actually formulate one of those scenarios in my head, I realize I’m exaggerating and then sincerely hope I never find myself in any such situation.
Now, would I eat gobs of mayonnaise for the sake of being polite? Ugggggh yes. I’ve done it, and I’ve lived to tell about it.
Once upon a time, sometime around my junior year of college, I was dating a boy from the wonderful city of Memphis. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to visit his hometown once. Memphis is amazing. My trip, however, was not amazing. Perhaps one day I’ll tell the whole story of how things went from “nice to meet you” to “get on the whore bus and go back to whatever AIDS-infected family you came from” (a direct quote that I will never forget), but for now, I’ll just start with this silly snippet.
My plane landed sometime around mid-morning, so by the time I arrived at my boyfriend’s home, it was lunch time. His mother greeted me enthusiastically and said she was going to order sandwiches from the best deli in town. She kept talking about how amazing this restaurant was and how I would never have anything like it again in my life. I was excited and hungry. She told me that I could choose from chicken salad, tuna salad, and pimento cheese.
I knew both tuna salad and chicken salad were made with mayonnaise, so those were out. I had only eaten pimento cheese one time before and it was a dip my grandmother used to make. She did not put any mayonnaise in it, so I assumed it was never made with mayonnaise. I figured it would be the safest choice so that I wouldn’t have to worry about choking anything down. I was so terribly wrong. Turns out, pimento cheese is almost always made with mayonnaise, and lots of it. When my sandwich came, I almost passed out from anxiety. You think I am kidding. I am not.
I was not about to offend this person I was meeting for the first time, so I just took some deep breaths, swallowed quickly, and drank a LOT of sweet tea. I thought it best to nibble around the edges a little bit at a time, and honestly, as I ate, I sort of got past the whole mental mayo-phobia. I realized that this was a totally salvageable situation and that this sandwich would not be the end of me.
I was getting to the end of the sandwich and then discovered that my technique of eating around the edges had caused an ever-growing lump of mayonnaisey filling to build up in the middle. I swear that last bite looked like it was the size of my fist. The mental block kicked back in, and I took a long pause to think about how to handle it. In the meantime, my boyfriend’s mother kept saying things like “you’re not full are you?” and “you eat like a little bird, no wonder you’re so skinny.” Sigh. I had to plunge through.
With the help of maybe the best sweet tea I’ve ever had and some strategic handfuls of potato chips, I got through that last bite. It was mostly quick and painless, and I was proud of myself for getting through it. A small victory and a silly one, but a victory nonetheless.
I’ve gotta say–as much as I loathe mayonnaise and still really can’t eat it, sometimes when I’m faced with a challenge, I think of that mound of sandwich and how it didn’t win.
Note: I was going to include several lovely photos of mayonnaise for decoration and for the purpose of flooding therapy. After viewing, like, three pictures, I threw up.