There are two big reasons why I love Annie Hall. 1.) It’s the quintessential film about a goy-Jew couple. 2.) The deli scene where Annie orders mayo on her pastrami.
The first time I saw this scene, I couldn’t stop laughing. Because, at least food-wise, I am Annie Hall. I not only slather mayo on my deli meats, I’m not above using it as a condiment for any other food.
Before Chick-Fil-A came out with secret sauce, I would disgust my Hebrew husband by combing ketchup & mayo for my fries & nuggets (a ratio of 5 to 2, given that ketchup packets are smaller). A friend of mine once asked me who in their right mind would use mayo for onion rings. When I said I would, the look on his face fairly screamed “Ewwwwww!”
My love affair with mayo comes from my Southern family. Growing up, we did not skimp whenever we made sandwiches & of course you licked the knife before you put it in the dishwasher. I think it also grew out of the habit some of my family members had of eating Campbell’s soup out of the can raw. Even today, whenever I use Campbell’s to make Cream of Mushroom or Italian Wedding soup, I scrap the sides of the can with the spoon & eat the remnants before rinsing & recycling.
I know that both mayonnaise & canned soup are just gobby bits of fat waiting to stick themselves to my ribs, hips, ass & anywhere else. I know that there’s no taste, nothing substantial to taste or enjoy. Mayo is really only as good as whatever it mingles with, like the juice from tomatoes or the grease from onions & pressed steak.
I also know that mayonnaise is culinary boredom, the ultimate concession to bland WASP-y indifference. I’ve tried to escape with mustard & horseradish, found excuses to cook dishes full of cilantro, thyme, garlic or chili powder. All those wonderful seasonings that bite, tease & redden the lips. But, inevitably, I always come back to mayo, the unfortunate spread that tastes like nothing and makes you feel as if you could eat forever without tasting a single thing. Sometimes the most comforting things are the ones that demand the least of effort.