Tomato-Corn Pie and Mayo Fail

Well, it was bound to happen.

In case you don’t know yet, I haven’t always been the domestic … mild success … I am now. Growing up, I was a mashed-potato-blending, smoke-alarm-setting, crying-over-the-piecrust flop. Sooner or later, I was bound to try to make something to share with you all… and fail at it.

The culprit this time (as I assure you, there will be more times like this in the future) was my first attempt at homemade mayonnaise. I had corn. I had tomatoes. What better than a creamy tomato-corn pie?

In fact, the only ingredient I didn’t have for the pie was mayonnaise, a crucial component to the rich, lemon filling. Rather than run to the store and buy something full of preservatives, starches and other corn products, I decided to get out the eggs and oil and try my hand at whipping my own mayo. I found this recipe and ran with it, as it used exclusively olive oil, which I love more than any other oil, and which I had more of than canola, got out the whisk and went to town.

See that? That’s what “split” mayo looks like — when the oil doesn’t successfully emulsify into the egg, you get something that tastes like mayo, but looks like a runny mess. The internet tells me this happens when you add the oil too quickly while beating the eggs.

So I tried it again, adding the existing oil mixture drop by drop to a new egg, and used the electric hand mixer to beat more quickly. But to no avail. The mayo was just not meant to be.

Luckily, since in this recipe, the mayo is cooked and used just as flavorful pie filling (rather than as a spread) I was still able to use the runny mayo to make the pie. Still turned out delicious — just less fluffy and pretty than it should.

Of course, there’s always a silver lining here. I may have failed this time around at making homemade mayo, but it gives me a chance to address something I know we’ve all felt at one time or another: kitchen shame.

No matter how far past my clumsy, undomestic girlhood I have come, no matter how radical a feminist I am, no matter how much I write about it, I still feel disappointed and angry with myself with I can’t succeed in the kitchen. The failure permeates. I pout. I pore over articles on the internet and then feel frustrated seeing the same answer over and over again, and think but I did that! in my best petulent, whiny voice.

But you know what? Who cares! We’ve all failed sometime or another, whether in or outside the kitchen. And my parents, like hopefully all of yours (assuming you had parents who met your basic needs) told me that mistakes are worth something only if we learn from them.

So I will attempt to learn how to make mayo again — I don’t stop trying something when I don’t get it right in the kitchen. I find another recipe, try with a little more patience, or help. But more than that, the lesson I take from my kitchen failures is that this is worth trying.

Homemade mayo (even if only hypothetical at this point) will be so much better for me, my body and my planet, than super-preserved store-bought mayo. No matter how many tries it takes, I will get this right, because there’s something real at stake here. And the only real failure would be not trying to succeed on something this important (Michael Jordan taught me that).

And if making my failures public to the world encourages all you to give it a shot, too, then all the better.

Alright, spill it! What are your funniest, clumsiest, or most frustrating kitchen fails? Let’s laugh at our misfortune together — and then give each other advice! Anyone know how to make mayo?

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