The Secret Ingredient

Appearances define your success. It is expected that a master chef can rattle off the comprehensive ingredient list of any foodstuff with a dip of her finger and a tap on her tongue. To maintain this appearance, training will only get you so far—you must have a good nose. You can spend your 10,000 hours tasting everything in the market. You can invest in a good aroma kit. But if you don’t have natural nosing ability, you’ll simply never be a master chef by relying on your nose. So, is it hopeless if you can’t tell tuna from turnip on scent alone? No! Our industry offers tricks that you can use to augment your limited olfactory sense. Though we refer to them as “tricks” because we employ them as magical acts to impress, they do represent a large, technological body of knowledge developed hundred of years ago and handed down through the tradition of culinary education.

The first trick leverages a bit of social engineering. Certainly you’ve encountered the host of a food-oriented, social gathering who sets a dish of something unexciting amidst the group and proudly proclaims that “you’ll absolutely love it” due to his “secret ingredient.” And, of course, everyone absolutely loves it. As they gush through wine-tripped tongues and speculate about the ingredient, you calmly reach out and dip your finger into the dish. The audacity of sticking your finger into communal food immediately commands attention. Your fellow diners clutch their drinks and stare at you expectantly while you furrow your brow, sniff your finger suspiciously, and then—with a look that says, “I’ve decided this won’t kill me”—you stick your finger in your mouth. You narrow your eyes and proclaim, “the secret ingredient is…mayonnaise”.

You know this because the secret ingredient is always mayonnaise. Always. Whenever you hear the phrase “secret ingredient”, you can safely and reliably assume it is mayonnaise, even if you can’t taste it.

Let us walk through some common examples.

Dale’s creamy guacamole has a secret? The secret is mayonnaise.

Florence makes better crab dip than anyone else? Florence uses mayonnaise.

How does Shawnique keep her lemon cake so moist? Mayonnaise.

Jerry’s chocolate pudding is to die for? It’s nothing but mayonnaise and chocolate syrup.

If an ingredient is said to be “secret”, you can bet it’s mayonnaise. Why, but for the embarrassment of relying on mayonnaise to make a dish taste good, would anyone keep an ingredient secret?

This entry was posted in Technique and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Secret Ingredient

  1. I beg to differ. My secret ingredient is aioli.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *