My faithful friend and fellow blogger Ms Azra Ali is as good as her word. Barely had she heard that the Marvellous Mittington Mayonnaise Label Collection was shamefully deficient in labels from Islamic countries, or she promised to try to fix the matter with some items from Saudi Arabia, where at present she resides. And Lo and Behold: not a week later old Alfred received the first pictures, taken by Smartphone in a Supermarket (Yes, dear reader: these decadent modernist gadgets occasionally serve a purpose worthy of better centuries!)
Kindly find below the pictures that she shared with all of us Mayonnaise lovers. As I have not been able to sample these sauces, my commentary must needs be brief, and concentrate on externals and packaging. And in that context, I may say that Saudi supermarkets are obviously just as bonkers as supermarkets in the rest of the world. On a single shelf, in a single shop, what do we find but Lemon Mayonnaise, Black Pepper Mayonnaise, Garlic Mayonnaise, Tikka Mayonnaise, ‘Lite’ Mayonnaise, and an enigmatic concoction labelled Mayochup of whose precise composition even my notorious curiosity is in no hurry to discover the seedy details (by the looks of it is contains tomato juice, so that would make it cocktail sauce without the – prohibited - whisky?)
‘And Mayonnaise, Alfred?’ I hear you ask. ‘Just the plain, honest, true, pure, authentic, dignified and delicious Sauce that served our Fathers and their Fathers before them? Do not Saudi supermarkets sell that??’
Well yes, dear reader, they do. But the ludicrous heights of Supermarket culinary perversion shows in the fact that they need to label that pure and honest product ‘Original’ Mayonnaise… As if it were something Sóóóóó 90s, so totally passé, stuffy stuff only good for old timers and folks who carry no Smartphone!
There is, dear reader, Original Sin. And there is Original Camembert and Champagne (i.e. from the region itself). But there is no ‘Original Mayonnaise’. There is Mayonnaise, tout court, pur sang. And then there are the mad abusive things that cynical manufacturers, unstopped by a conscience or the Diktats of the otherwise overregulating European Union, do to that Harmless Manna…
What else? Well: one thing to observe is the typical local fares and victuals depicted on the labels. In Saudi Arabia, Mayonnaise seems to be destined mainly for hamburgers, but we also find bites that look remarkably like Spanish croquetas and deep-fried shrimp, while – rather surprisingly – the Garlic Mayonnaise label suggests that its contents ought to be eaten with French Fries, which – not counting the garlic – is a typical Dutch tradition. There are also a few dishes which for the love of me I cannot place or recognize, but possibly Ms Azra can shed some light on those.
And talking of Light: one of these topsy-turvy plastic bottles actually contains a rather neat – if accidental – jeu de mots. The ‘Lite’ Mayonnaise, a marketing madness meant to lend people the illusion they can eat their Mayo and have a bathing suit body too, is produced by a brand named ‘Noor’. Now ‘Noor’ in Arabic means Light, as in illumination. But of course Lite (as in featherweight) really ought to be written ‘Light’ as well in any spelling worthy of Shakespeare’s language. So that here we are offered Light Light Mayonnaise… Is that overdoing it? Oh well, A Rose is a Rose is a Rose by any other name, Rite?
Enough! With a little luck, in the near future, Alfred B Mittington will be in a position to offer you some more interesting details as to the State of Mayo in the Kingdom of Saud.
PS Oh, talking about dumb labels, allow me to point out one more hilarious example. The ‘American Garden US Mayonnaise’ proudly shouts at the customer that is was ‘Born in the USA’. How, I wonder, is a sauce ever BORN? Mayonnaise comes from an egg, and eggs are not born. So the phrase really ought to read: ‘Laid in the USA!’ And why oh why, I wonder, did the yankee manufacturer not write THAT on his label??