Our kitchen renovation required cleaning out several drawers filled with exotic spices, most of which I had never heard of: anardana, advieh, amchoor powder and ajwain, to name a few. (Yes, my wife had them in alphabetical order.) Mary Ellen bought these when she went through her, “I am going to learn to be a gourmet cook” stage, the week after we got married. The stage left the following Monday.
Mary Ellen thought this would be a good time to wean me off my addiction to mustard and ketchup, two essential ingredients that the great chefs of the world have, inexplicably, eliminated from their food preparation. There are occasional recipes with a touch of gourmet mustard, but when was the last time Wolfgang Puck smacked the bottom of an inverted ketchup bottle and drizzled his Chicken Kiev with Heinz 57?
During the transfer to the garage fridge, I left a jar of mayonnaise on the storage shelf overnight. Without the slightest hesitation, Mary Ellen tossed it in the garbage, but the next day I fished it out and slathered some on my sandwich. Mary Ellen panicked. “Are you crazy? Why not just use it to make potato salad so we can wipe out the entire neighborhood at the summer block party?”
The mayonnaise jar did say “REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING,” as well as providing a hotline number for people with emergency mayonnaise questions. I didn’t know if I was calling a deli or New Delhi.
“Yes,” said the representative, “I get husbands calling all day long with this question. Commercial mayonnaise is loaded with acid-killing bacteria. And the eggs used are pasteurized. It’s perfectly safe, despite what every wife thinks.”
“So, I shouldn’t throw it out?”
“Of course you should throw it out! A husband can’t win a mayonnaise argument.”
He was right. I didn’t tell Mary Ellen about my phone call. It would have meant Hellman’s to pay.