It’s Labor Day weekend, and we’re gearing up for The Ultimate Unbridled Picnic! All day long we’ll be posting favorite picnic recipes from some of our very favorite authors —and be sure to download our Ultimate Unbridled Picnic Reader. Kick back… and enjoy!
You know that great yellow stuff you get smeared on your Bread & Puppet bread at performances? That stuff they make for the peasants in southern France and Italy: when they come in from the fields for lunch, they are handed a loaf of bread to rip apart and dip in a big, common bowl of God’s gift to sweat, energy and low blood pressure.
Here’s how you make it:
One head of garlic
Separate yolks and place in large mixing bowl. Give the whites to high-cholesterol partners innocent of Lipitor.
Here’s the tricky part:
Pray to the aioli gods
Add oil, A DROP AT A TIME, to the egg yolks. I’m not kidding — a drop at at time, at least at the beginning. Bread and Puppet macho would have you whip the oil and eggs together with a fork. I cheat and use an electric mixer on low speed. Don’t tell Peter Schumann.
As the volume of oil builds up, you will be able to add it more quickly, a couple of drops, then a few, then a very thin, intermittent stream. But WARNING: if you add the oil too quickly, the aioli will not “catch”, and you’ll end up with an oily mess. Patience, patience. Franz Kafka wrote:
There are two main human sins from which all the others derive: impatience and indolence. It was because of impatience that we were expelled from Paradise, it is because of indolence that we cannot return. Yet perhaps there is only one major sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were expelled, because of impatience we cannot return.
He must have been a very good aioli maker.
How much oil? Reasonable question. I’ll defer the answer.
The mixing bowl should now be filled with something that looks and feels very like mayonnaise. In fact, it IS mayonnaise. This is how you make mayonnaise. The funny thing is, once you get to a certain point, you can add oil much more quickly (but not too quickly), and make as much as you like. The yellow will become more diluted, but aside from that, you can plan to feed the multitudes if you have enough oil. Add loaves and fishes if desired. That’s how much oil.
Chop garlic into tiny, tiny pieces. Bread & Puppet macho insists you chop with a broad blade very sharp knife, then squoosh the pieces with the flat of the blade to squeeze out the final juice. When puppeteers aren’t watching, I use a garlic press.
How much garlic? Use the whole head, or just part of it? That depends on how big the garlic is, how much aioli you are making, and how strong you want it. I’ve never made enough to use more than one entire head — about half a large mixing bowl’s worth.
Mix the garlic mash into the waiting bowl, and stir in thoroughly. Add salt to taste.
Eating: Although you can eat it immediately, it’s best to let it stand, refrigerated for a couple of days. It mellows out into something strong and smooth, but not nastily fierce. Folks either love it or they hate it. Some stomachs can’t stand too much garlic without refluxing. You can give out Rolaids with the aioli to those folks. Best on fresh-baked hearty bread.
Marc Estrin is the author of a number of articles and books including Golem Song, The Education of Arnold Hitler, and The Lamentations of Julius Marantz.
Download an excerpt of The Lamentations of Julius Marantz.
Visit Marc Estrin’s website.