Stealth Mom and the Mayonnaise Infiltration of 82

Home cooking. The words conjure up images of Mom and apple pie. But for some, beneath the warm memories of home and hearth there also lurks a darker underbelly. One of coercion, deceit, betrayal... and condiments.

Yes, today, my friends, I will share with you how my childhood dining was regularly infiltrated by the Stealth Mom-- who I've come to suspect was actually a secret agent for the United Mayonnaise and Sour Cream Council.

My mother, I should begin by explaining, was a very good cook and also a pretty darned honest person all around. And it's important I begin the story like this, because you need to fully understand the confusing dichotomy that Dad and I experienced under her clever double-agent manipulations.

On one hand, you had the loving mom and wife who planned nutritious meals, made fantastic beef barley soup, amazing chili, and drool-worthy baked goods... The mom who did this uncomplainingly, and to whom Dad and I both sincerely owe our gratitude....

And then on the other hand, you had the evil mastermind who plotted to invade our tastebuds and gastrointestinal systems with the handful of deeply detested non-nutrive elements like mayonnaise and sour cream (me), and onions and mushrooms (Dad), in an effort to expand our personal horizons.

See, Mom herself disliked very few foods-- except for lima beans which gave her a dangerous allergic reaction that made her puff up a like an inflatable lawn ornament at Christmas. (The aversion being, then, kinda understandable.)

So as a result of Mom's great love of all that was culinary, she found it simply impossible to believe that my dad or I truly didn't like a particular flavor or texture. She felt it wasn't so much the taste we were reacting to, as in... oh, I don't know... the bad publicity or something.... Food we viewed unjustly as having a shady reputation... Martyred by prejudice...

And so quietly, subtly, she made it her personal quest to prove us wrong.

This was done by slipping disliked ingredients into a meal with the sly ingenuity of a 15th century usurper to the English throne on a poisoning campaign. I mean, when it came to what was in his din-din, honestly, Edward V had to watch his back less than my father and I did.

The irony was that Dad and I could also totally taste-- and often see-- what was lurking in the food.

"Does this tuna have mayonnaise on it?" I'd ask, after a bite of the unpleasant tang, the slick texture, and a survey of the suspicious white coating that no fish in its right mind would find sea-worthy.

"Er, no," said my otherwise honest maternal archetype. "No, just don't worry about it." Big smile. "Have your sandwich. The bread's getting soggy."

But I was not so easily dissuaded. "I really think there's mayonnaise on here," I'd insist, the Mayometer in my brain issuing great whoops of "WARNING WARNING WARNING-- ABORT-- ABORT-- STEP AWAY FROM THE SANDWICH!"-- that there was a contaminated substance lurking.

"Oh, that..." She'd give a casual wave of the hand. "That's just the oil from the way it was packed. Don't give it a second thought. Eat up."

I'd eye the sandwich suspiciously, drilling down with my optical Anti-Condiment Detector and picking up distinct mayonnaise residue through its microscopic lens. "I don't know, Mom... It doesn't look anything like oil. It really looks like--"

"Oh, just eat it already!" she'd finally say, exasperated. And adding, with a narrow expression, "You can't taste the mayonnaise, anyway."

That was the giveaway: "you can't taste the mayonnaise, anyway." Which is probably why she didn't get into, say, being a double agent for American national security during the Cold War or anything because, she didn't have her Believable Denial down quite solidly enough.

They would have worn her down too soon.

Well, recently, in discussing old recipes, I've learned that others, too, grew up having to form proper defenses against their own personal Stealth Moms. In fact, such was the popularity of this concept during my formative years and before, that there apparently were cookbooks encouraging mothers to work their mega-mom meal mojo on tricking husbands and young'uns into eating the inedible. So it wasn't just an isolated incident. My mom was part of a movement!

And now I understand that Jessica Seinfeld-- Jerry "No Soup For You" Seinfeld's wife-- has a cookbook out called Deceptively Delicious, and she's marketing the Stealth Mom to a whole new generation.

As an adult, I can certainly appreciate the need to ensure your loved ones get their proper nutrition...

But as a child who lived under the Covert Mayonnaise Infiltration of the 80s, I can only find myself shrieking, "Beware, my little friends! The Stealth Mom is on the prowl... And she has ways of making you eat!"

Do you have memories of mealtime trauma? Were you the child of a Stealth Mom? Of Cabbages and Kings would love to hear from you!

I hear they respect a person's right not to like mayonnaise over at Humor-blogs.


chyna said...

My mom would do the mayo thing too. Now we come to find out I'm allergic to soy and peanuts. Can you guess what kind of oil is in mayo? Hmph the woman was trying to kill me!!!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Oh no, Chyna- not your mom, too! :) You sound lucky to have made it through.

Okay, so we have a second mayo sneak in the tally. And I'm betting we'll have some other snuck-in food products stories by the time the week is out.

Alice said...

Hail Jenn!

Alice, formerly of the Egg Dictatorship, saluting you and your efforts in locating the mayo molecules. Parents are SOOO wrong sometimes.

I do have to side with your mother on the lima bean thing - BLECH!

Jenn Thorson said...

Hail, Alice! Saluting your liberation from the oppression of the Egg Dictatorship. Long may you be yolk-free!

Greg said...

Well, I guess I understand your Mayo Thing now. I mean, if you said you didn't care for it and she kept trying to sneak it in (and it wasn't like, valuable veggies you really ought to have been eating)...I guess that might've turned me off the stuff, too.

But what about the real stealth recipes? My Chicken Divan uses a bit of mayo with some cream of chicken soup, lemon, curry and cheddar cheese. Would you be able to detect that?

We'll just have Hamburger Helper when you come over. Or we can go out to a clam shack.

Jenn Thorson said...

Oh, she made Chicken Divan, too. And yes, I suspected it was either mayo or sour cream in there by the texture (which is part of what I don't care for).

The funny thing is, there really aren't that many things I don't like, or don't want to at least try. It's just those particular white foods. :)

Clam shacks are good, though. (Fried clams... YUMMMMM!) You're on! :)

Anonymous said...

My mother once admitted to me that she didn't quite understand how she managed to get a husband and children who would not touch gravy. She knows all about how to make it well, no lumps, all that, and there's no one in the house who cares about that skill.

When it comes to mayo and tuna, I suspect that one motivation for trying to sneak it past you was the extra effort of setting aside just the right amount of plain food for the mayo-averse [Hi!] before mixing up the rest for the remainder of the family.

It's _still_ icky.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Rhet- So this issue is, really, that gravy-love isn't genetic. :)

Heh, knowing your own mayo-aversion, I'd rather wondered whether you wouldn't have something to share on this particular post. :) Thanks for stopping by!