There are far more oysters in the Pacific Northwest than there are intrepid eaters who've chanced eating the bivalves raw. Despite our region's global reputation as an epicenter of oyster culture, raw oysters remain on many local eaters' never-tried lists. In this occasional series, Voracious takes on those lists, asking experts how first-timers should approach relatively common foods that give them the willies. Rather than probe the finer points of exotic offal appreciation, we'll uncover what makes mayonnaise, oozy cheese, and oysters so repugnant to otherwise adventurous eaters--and how they can summon the nerve to take just one bite.
Nobody dislikes mayonnaise. But there are plenty of eaters who revile the stuff.
Skittish eaters brook no exception when it comes to mayonnaise, a seemingly innocuous mixture of egg yolk, lemon and vinegar. Mayo haters won't tolerate a stray smear of mayo on their sandwiches. They don't care if the eggs came from free-range, organic chickens or if the lemons were squeezed by angels: They despise mayo's smell, color and texture.
The anti-mayo crowd has a lively online presence, where Facebook groups including "Mayonnaise Sucks", and "I Hate Mayonnaise" invite abstainers to air their mayo grievances. "I feel gross just thinking about it," claims a typical post. "It tastes bad, reminds me of fat and it's just not easy to spell."
At Paseo Caribbean Restaurant, every sandwich is slathered with garlic mayonnaise. Manager Lucas Lorenzo explains why it's "one of the reasons people like our sandwiches so much": (Mayo haters who are prone to queasiness should probably skip the next paragraph.)
"It gives a rich, creamy flavor," Lorenzo says. "It's the lubricant."
Still, Lorenzo says, he doesn't toy with mayonnaise revulsion.
"People who have an aversion, it's really strong," he says. "It's not like they dabble in it."
Lorenzo refused to provide any tips to ease eaters into the mayo fold, acknowledging the hopelessness of the task.
"I'd suggest our prawns and red sauce," he says. "It has no mayo and it absolutely kills."