Whole Grain Mayo

« previous post | next post »

I'm in Portland for the 2012 edition of the annual secret cabal.  This is what I had for lunch today:

None of the mayonnaise recipes that I'm familiar with involve grains of any sort. I was hoping to learn that whole grain, originally used to specify flour made from non-degerminated wheat, has taken on a figurative meaning of "wholesome" or "natural". But Carmen Fought guessed correctly that it would be mayonnaise mixed with whole-grain mustard.


  1. Stuart said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    Mayonnaise with Whole grain mustard was what I immediately assumed. It just seemed to make sense.

  2. Paolo said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    I am Italian and I had to look up what on earth might be Tuscan fries…

  3. Electric Dragon said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

    "Swiss and Mixed Greens" made me wonder what Swiss greens were – a US name of chard perhaps? Then I realised it's probably the American ellipsing of Swiss cheese into just "Swiss".

  4. JC said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

    They could have saved a lot of hassle if they went with the REAL name- mayostard or, mustardayonnaise, please.


    [(myl) Well, maybe their "mayo" is short for "mayostard" rather than "mayonnaise". But anyhow, there was no hassle — it led to a lunch-time discussion of menu modification as a possible vehicle for steganography.]

  5. Gene Callahan said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

    And, of course, they are serving you a panino, not panini, when you order this.

  6. Martin said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

    And I was expecting something about Pāṇini…

  7. Vijay John said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

    You know what? I didn't even read that description carefully enough to notice anything. If I was reading such a menu in real life, I'd probably move on to looking at some other menu item. I hate American sandwiches (and I'm American!), although I suppose I could tolerate them if necessary.

  8. Circe said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

    Do linguists feel like cannibals when they eat Paninis?

  9. Circe said,

    January 4, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

    This suggests a line of professional jokes about linguists, and I would take the liberty of foisting a couple on the esteemed readers of this blog:

    Q: How does a linguist like her Panini?
    A: Translated into English, please.

    Q: Why does the linguist not eat Paninis?
    A: Because she is is opposed to cannibalism, that's why.

  10. Ben Zimmer said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 2:03 am

    Since it's Portland, I hope you inquired about the provenance of the chicken.

  11. diogenes said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 6:42 am

    it seems that the function of this description is more to obscure meaning than to convey information. The whole thing just makes me want to ask stupid supplementary questions, such as when were the mushrooms roasted, could I have pan-seared peppers instead…

  12. mollymooly said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 9:27 am

    "Dijon mayonnaise" is a real thing; I guess "wholegrain mayo" is modelled on that name.

  13. Pflaumbaum said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 9:39 am

    Pāṇini was more of a sushi man – that's why he used the nigiri script.

  14. Michael Briggs said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 11:14 am

    Mayonnaise with mustard? Not. Mayonnaise is egg-yolk + olive oil +wine vinegar. Period. Full stop.

  15. Brett said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 11:18 am

    @Michael Briggs: Have you ever made mayonnaise by hand? Practically all recipes include mustard. Even if it's not important for flavor, the mustard makes it much easier to keep it from breaking.

  16. Steven Lee said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

    Maybe it is just a typo and "whole grain" should have been between "toasted" and "ciabatta."

  17. Dennis Paul Himes said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    When I was reading it and came to "Whole Grain Mayo" I thought they had probably left off a comma, and that it should be "Whole Grain, Mayo", with "Whole Grain" short for "Whole Grain Bread". Then I got to "on Toasted Ciabatta", which killed that theory. Even though I don't think I've ever heard of ciabatta, it seemed clear that that was the bread.

  18. Paul W said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    Hot tip – get a real sandwich at East Side Deli (on the West Side, YO!) on the Park Blocks. Just go behind the HIlton two blocks and walk toward PSU along the edge of the Park Blocks. You can't miss it.

    Also – try any of the food cart pods in and around downtown. I'm sure you'll find plenty to post about…

  19. bfwebster said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    So…are mustard seeds really "grains" in the food sense? :-)

  20. Circe said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

    No, the "nigiri" script did not even exist in Panini's time, he probably used the Brahmi script (though I am not sure about this).

  21. John Burgess said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

    What Brett said. Even Escoffier permits the addition of ground mustard in mayo.

    @bfwebster: yes, mustard comes in grain or, in the alternative, seed. I'd bet you could even find a cite for 'mustard corn' were one to look hard enough.

  22. Ellen K. said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    If Electric Dragon is right, that "Swiss" refers to cheese, then this listing is in need of a serial comma.

    @Gene Callahan: You are confusing Italian and English. This menu was in English; he was served a panini.

  23. Ellen K. said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    @So…are mustard seeds really "grains" in the food sense? :-)

    You mean is is related to wheat, corn, barley, etc.? I don't think so, but I also don't think that's relevant to the context. Yes, mustard seeds are grains. Yes, so are things we don't eat, like grains of sand. Doesn't make the term "whole grain mustard" any less legitimate.

  24. Stuart said,

    January 5, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    "nigiri script" – the only google hits to this are this thread – is this a common variant of "nagari" as in "devanagari"?

  25. Vijay John said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 1:03 am

    @Stuart: Uh, no. While Circe's comment is not a joke, the use of "nigiri" in this thread is. ("Nigiri" is a play on the similarity between "Nagari" and the "nigiri" in "nigiri-zushi"; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sushi#Nigirizushi for an explanation of what nigiri-zushi is).

  26. Stuart said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 1:07 am

    Vijay, thanks! I like those sorts of language jokes.

  27. Trimegistus said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 8:47 am

    Tuscan fries are a simpler form of Doric fries.

  28. Vijay John said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 8:56 am

    Nice try, but I think you mean a "Doric frieze."

  29. F said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    Please may we have a frieze on all these bad puns?

  30. Circe said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    F: Was the "frieze" intentional? (With Language Log, I never know. :( )

  31. Vijay John said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    Yes, Circe. A tongue-in-cheek pun (because I mentioned "frieze" in the previous comment).

  32. Angiportus said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    How many sides go in the side salad? And what are they the sides of?

  33. un malpaso said,

    January 6, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    For my part, both "whole grain mayo" and the lone "Swiss" confused me, or at least seemed a bit "off." No doubt the mayo would have seemed a bit off, too.

    BTW, I am 42/m/American. I am also a bit of a foodie but I have never encountered "whole grain" used by itself to refer to whole grain mustard… it seems like a perfect reflection of the recipe itself: a pretentious attempt to add some spice to an otherwise bland, eggy phrase.

  34. Jim said,

    January 9, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

    "Swiss and Mixed Greens" made me wonder what Swiss greens were – a US name of chard perhaps? Then I realised it's probably the American ellipsing of Swiss cheese into just "Swiss".

    "If Electric Dragon is right, that "Swiss" refers to cheese, then this listing is in need of a serial comma."

    Electirc Dragon cannot be right. We are talking about Portland. No restaurant would call cheese "Swiss" – they would specify "Emmenthaler" and give the birth dates of the cows and an assurance that they had all consented to having their udders touched.

    "When I was reading it and came to "Whole Grain Mayo" I thought they had probably left off a comma, and that it should be "Whole Grain, Mayo", "

    Again – Portland. "Whole grain" would be too dinerish a way to refer to bread, and in any case the restaurant would have to specify the grain and veganness (veganity?) of the yeast used.

RSS feed for comments on this post