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Rwandan Mayonnaise

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is eating french fries that have been deep-dipped into a pot of mayonnaise. In Rwanda, french fries come with nearly every meal so this decadent indulgence is fast becoming habitual.

In most countries the frite would be the highlighted ingredient -- made better only with the richness of the greasy condiment. But in Rwanda the mayonnaise is so good that the frite is merely a vehicle by which to transport the spread from bowl to mouth. The mayonnaise here tastes lightly of lemon -- hollandaise sauce's close cousin. The rich buttery yellow comes from the dark orange yolks. The slight crust that builds around the edges is worthy of its own name. I'll even admit that I've been caught scraping off the congealed build up and devouring it as a delicacy as rich as fois gras.

Why is the mayonnaise so delicious in Rwanda? It's a question I have asked all the waiters and chefs I've encountered. No one knows the secret, but I have my theories. As with all things delicious, ingredients is key. After oil, the main element in mayonnaise is the egg.

There are choices when buying eggs in Rwanda. All are small -- two sizes larger than a quail egg, one size smaller than the Grade A Extra Large egg found in America. The choice comes with color. Brown eggs come from chickens that are fed fish feed. The resulting yolk is a pale white color, basically albino cholesterol. The white eggs are an entirely different entity altogether. They contain the yolks used for Rwanda's amazing mayonnaise. Occupying the majority of the space inside the white egg shell is a dark orange yolk sunnier and denser than the flesh of a pumpkin. It is the egg flavor and a hint of the native lemons that punches through the oil and sets this mayonnaise apart.

It's clear that the mayonnaise here hasn't been pasteurized and warm mayonnaise is quite common -- evidence that it has never seen refrigeration of any kind. In this way, perhaps I'm tempting fate. But considering all that I've eaten thus far, it's impressive that my stomach remains content and without incident.


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