Saturday, December 20, 2008


Aïoli is one of the most abused culinary terms and, since it begins with a dusty A, provides a good place for me to start my rant. Without exception, in every restaurant in the US where I've been served what the chef and menu call "aïoli," the sauce being foisted on gullible diners is a mayonnaise with garlic added.

Despite the fact that there seems to be some confusion about this, even among recent generations in France, a real aïoli is made without egg yolks. And while I have seen some recipes which use additional starch, or even cooked potato (à la skordalia), to stabilize the emulsion, I am quite convinced that the original and authentic version of this condiment has exactly three ingredients: garlic, salt, and olive oil. Without the modern "refinements" of additional emulsifiers, the only satisfactory way of making aïoli is with mortar and pestle. You can see that this method does not lend itself to mass production, but is perfectly attuned with slow food, farmhouse cooking.

I'll amend this posting in the near future with photos and commentary on several recipes and methods for making aïoli.

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