Friday, 14 December 2012

Cheat's mayonnaise

So it happened: the very worst thing. I got norovirus. And just to make sure everyone else had a miserable time, too, I Tweeted about it step by step, reminding those on shift work at 5am that I had now been vomiting for EIGHT HOURS, reminding those getting up with their kids at 7am that I had now been going for TEN HOURS - like some terrible telathon.

But in the end, you know, it wasn't so bad. I mean, it was the most physically traumatising thing to happen to me apart from giving birth - but once you've had it once, you know the drill. Puke so hard it feels like you're going to turn inside out all night and then sit back for the next day sipping Ribena, graciously accepting an avalanche of sympathy. People are so nice about it that it almost makes it worth having.

And anyway you have to shrug these things off. Like you do when, say, when the Mail rings you and offers you enough money to pay for Christmas, an iPhone and a small non-extradition island in the Caribbean to write a slightly controversial piece for them, and then you get a bit carried away and then get over-excited strangers jumping on your head for days and days because they haven't worked out yet that no-one writing in the Mail actually means a word they say, (apart from Melanie Phillips). Like that. You have to shrug that off, too - while crossing your fingers that Samantha Brick pops up again to re-direct some heat.

And Christmas. I think I might shrug Christmas off this year. We haven't got a tree yet. I didn't get an advent calendar until December 4th. I haven't done any festive baking. I'm not even that excited about this year's wrapping paper colour combination (purple with lilac ribbon printed with white snowflakes). It's the last year I'll be able to shrug it off, though. I think Kitty will be aware of Christmas next year and we won't be able to get away with anything less than a 10ft tree and an actual herd of reindeer in the garden. I'm not saying I'm anti-Christmas, before you all get your flipping pitchforks out, I'm just saying that I am shrugging off the pressure.

I'm relaxing, too, about doing things like making my own pastry. I used to insist on making my own pastry before I realised that only people very devoted to the idea of from-scratch baking or who don't happen to have a packet of Jus-Roll in their freezer or who don't have children make their own. It's not that time-consuming, it's just so much easier getting it out of a packet. Go ahead! Judge me! I don't care! Not after the week I've had.

I'm also henceforth never making my own mayonnaise again, having discovered a way of tarting up Hellman's that is so satisfying that I actually feel more smug about doing it than making my own. My mother always makes her own mayonnaise, even when we were small, but she has the patience of a saint and was always able to deftly tune out the murderous squabblings of children, humming as she drizzled the oil into the yolks: dum de dum "FUCKING BI.... HATE Y" dum de dum de dum "I'M GOIN TO FUCKING KIL" tum te tum te tum "FAT C" dee dee dum "UCK OFF!!!" dee dee deeeee.

Anyway so this is my cheat's mayonnaise, which is just super. We have been buying small cooked shrimp from the fishmonger recently and we have it with that, but I recommend you deploy it as an accompaniment to all cold cuts and elaborate sandwiches this festive season.

Some Hellman's mayonnaise (or whatever you've got)
an unpeeled garlic clove
lemon juice
some olive oil
hot smoked paprika

So what you do is start with the mayo in a bowl get some olive oil, dribble a bit in, then some salt and pepper and lemon juice. Taste. Do it all again until you think it tastes nice. You might like a grassier mayonnaise than me.

Now take a clove of garlic and without bothering to peel it, stick it in a crusher and then crush until just a little scraping comes out and flick that into the mayo and stir. You just want a hint of garlic, because too much is just terrible for the digestion and extremely antisocial. If you had some garlic oil I think that would do the job of the olive oil and the garlic in one.

If you are planning to have this with seafood, a dollop of tomato ketchup - 1/2 a teaspoon I'd say, turns this into a Marie Rose sort of thing.

Finish with a rakish dash of paprika.



  1. I go a step further and just buy the Hellman's roasted garlic. Sometimes a bit of lemon juice, sometimes some smoked paprika. It's lovely.

  2. You controversial thing you! I've just read it and can actually relate to it. Anyone with half a brain (so that's Daily Mail readers out then)can see it's a totally personal take on the subject. Some of the comments are so over emotional - why do people take things so personally? And why shouldn't we have a preference for girls - for millenia girl babies have been seen as a disappointment and a burden and sometimes even killed(and in some cultures still are).
    As someone(like one of the commenters on the piece) who has just discovered that my unborn child has major heart problems and am slowly coming to terms with that - I don't for a minute think your piece is insulting or offensive to me. It is just a point of view. Enjoy the money Esther and happy christmas. P.S Can we have a roasted ham recipe please (or is there an old one??)

  3. Lorna Jane would you drop me a quick email?, just when you have a sec.. E xx

  4. Just between you and me (whisper it...) I felt the same about the prospect of a man child after my sophisticated and articulate little girl. But he's here now, and he's pretty cool. Who knows what the future brings, but I guess I'll have to cross those smelly sock-strewn bridges when I come to them.
    Boo to norovirus - I've had that once. I phoned NHS direct to inform them that I was about to die, y'know, just in case they cared and anyone came looking.

  5. Was just thinking that I need something easy to perk up my prawns for Christmas day and up pops this recipe - great. I am also adopting a very laid back attitude this Christmas, am fed up with sitting down at Christmas dinner with a face the colour of magenta, feeling completely stressed out. It's just myself and my hubby this year and between cooking a manageable but festive lunch I'll be sipping whisky from mid-morning till I'm quietly pissed and mellow. My reply to people who have gone completely overboard, yet again, and have bought a zillion presents and have spent at least every weekend since September engaged in Christmas Shopping, and then MOAN about is - MORE FUCKING FOOL YOU ..
    Oh and by the way I totally agreed with your article about your preference for girls. Ignore the hysterical twats on DM as most of them have the generic makeup of a cauliflower.

  6. Replies
    1. Not as good as a dishy rake.

  7. I'm sure you have a million peeps to tell you not to worry about the shit people say on the DM website. It IS the DM after and you're right, most intelligent people take it with a pinch of salt. I love your blogs (as you know, i'm pathetically sycophantic and make myself sick with it sometimes) but i didn't necessarily agree about the boys shiz. mainly cos i have a boy and i was bought up with boys and like being the only girl to boss them all around! But as everyone says, it's a personal preference. I do *hope* i have a girl next time. So i have someone to do all the ridiculous girly things i do with my mum. But i probably won't, and there will probably be a bit of disappointment at the 20 week scan but i don't think that means i am damaging my baby's future mental welfare! By the time he's born he will be more loved than the most loved thing in the whole loving universe! Equally with his brother of course. ;-) I think most people have a preference for whatever reason. Just some people are more honest about it than others. Um, drunken rant over. ps i love a bit o'Hellmans. I do a similar thing with shop bought Houmous. Olive oil, few chick peas and pine nuts. I can NEVER get my homemade houmous to taste good.

  8. Love the blog and read it avidly. Disappointed in the Mail piece, as although I appreciate everyone has to earn a living, surely you don't want your name associated with that sort of thing in the Mail? There is such a thing as bad PR...

    No sinister reason for this being anonymous - lack of technical skills on my part. All the best.

    1. Yes I DO have to earn a living. I am a professional writer, a hired pen. It is my job to assume a position and write from that position vigorously, entertainingly and convincingly.

      You like this blog because I am a normal, sympathetic person who just wants to make you laugh and here I can be myself. But I am not paid to do this and I do not have the features editors of newspapers banging down my door. I am a beggar, not a chooser.

      And, anyway, I am not a snob about newspapers. I've worked at too many different newspapers for too long to be so stupid about it.

      People declare the Daily Mail to be evil and wrong - I see it simply as a product designed to appeal to a certain sort of person. Though judging by its sales and the amazing success of its website, that person is: everyone.

      So, no, I don't have some uptight thing about my name being associated with The Daily Mail. I was grateful for the work, I was grateful to be thought of.

      Thanks for reading.

  9. Oh. how ridiculous people are. I thought it was quite funny and was devastated for about a day when we found out we were having a boy. I think I wailed something like 'I don't know what to do with boys' followed by' what will we do with all the girl clothes'.
    He is 3 now and obviously amazing, although ridiculously loud. I can hear him downstairs now shouting something about poo and robots.

  10. Oh - and I like it when you write about food too. I will try the mayonnaise thing later.

  11. Elizabeth Medovnik15 December 2012 at 20:11

    Oh great - norovirus and Daily Mail readers with pitchforks, all at the same time! Lucky you xx

  12. Ha, did send you an 'encouraging' tweet after your first puke, I was wondering whether you might talk yourself into it being noro....... imagine how guilty I felt when I logged into Twitter mid morning the next day to see your heave by heave account of the night (after a fairly decent night's sleep too)!

    Read the DM article too, it made for amusing reading, as did the comments! It is curious, the viewpoint which some have that because an opinion is expressed which disagrees with their view of the world it is not only wrong but worthy of fairly harsh criticism. I'm often unconvinced that they would accept any criticism of their counter argument.....

    I've struggled to have children of my own but have a lovely stepson and am a (hopefully) loving and effective foster parent, the element of transition in my household gives me a unique viewpoint on your opinion, when I have a house full of either gender stereotyped behaviour you mention, I often long for the alternative!

    Keep us abreast of any other published pieces


  13. I really didn't want a girl when I was pregnant with my son. I'd had 7 miscarriages so knew how lucky I was, I just didn't want a little girl. I like boys. I like tramping in the mud and I like running around. The idea of having a girl filled me with dread because I don't know anything about make up, or girl stuff, I feel comfortable with boy stuff. I do have 4 brothers though.

    When I read your article I could relate to the feeling, but not the sex. My son is flippin amazing. He is wonderful and I'm really glad I had him. Although I got what I wanted, I know that if he would have been a she I'd still adore her (if that makes sense).

    Having recently miscarried again at 11 weeks, I still feel the same way about preferring another boy when the time comes, it doesn't make us bad people to feel this way, it just makes us honest.

    Anyway, that was my two pence worth. I love the blog :-D

  14. While we are on the subject of cheat things and prawns. Here is the ultimate cheat thing for prawns.

    Horseradish and tomato ketchup mixed together in a bowl. No extra thing required. People actually go mad for it. Which infuriated a friend when I had put this next to their home made mayo and people preferred my combo.

  15. Oh, it winds me up when people who have no clue of the life of a freelance journalist think they can dictate what someone else should and should not write. How arrogant. I'm in the same boat, Esther, and have to put up with all sorts of "ooh, not the Mail!" comments – and try to remain calm as they tell me about the AWFUL things they were forced to read via the clicks on the sidebar. Hmmm. I resort to telling people that I work for X, Y and Z, too, but hate that I do this just to appease the judgmental (hypocritical) types. Unless people want to pay you to write for their approved papers and magazines, I suggest they keep schtum.

    Love the blog. Love your work. Carry on!

    Joy x

  16. Like the blog and I also liked the DM article. There are far too many people who buy into the "We are so ernest about parenting that we must inflict our tenuous and entirely subjective opinions on everyone else" morons out there IMO.

    Anyhoo, we were convinced I was having a girl. The thought "Oh fuck, what am I meant to do with that??" did bounce momentarily through my head in the delivery room, but fortunately it's worked out great and he's a hoot. After all, it's a rare case that one's aversion to the little *cherubs is so great that they bring you out in hives.

    *I don't mean cherubs.

    The noise though...holy cow. Shouting because he can. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes brain pugglinly twatful....

  17. The pictures is increasing my appetite and can't wait to try this recipe and get the taste of it.

    Thanks for such wonderful recipe!!