As the Duke de Richelieu was kicking the Brit arse in 1756, his chef was busy making a meal that was befitting of such a celebration after the win. As the French Duke was victorious at Port Mahon he went through a culinary mistake which became a hit in times to come. His chef while making a sauce of cream and eggs found that he had no cream with him. Now what? He substituted Olive Oil for the cream and a new sauce was born. Called “Mahonnaise” after the incredible victory at Port Mahon!
In 1905, when the German immigrant Richard Hellman opened a restaurant, he started the use of what was no being called Mayonnaise! So popular was his sauce that he was selling in “wooden boats” used for weighing butter.
The news of his Mayo spread far and wide. Until the Mexicans tasted the amazing culinary delight of Hellman’s. They immediately made something unique out of it by adding some of their Tequila to it – Mayorita! Mayorita was a big hit in the country and just about everyone wanted a sip of it. So the demand for Mayonnaise was huge and immediate.
Hellman, by 1912 had started the biggest factory of Mayonnaise in Britain to cater to the unusually high demand from Continental Europe. Mexicans couldn’t be satisfied with the little that they got off, of his New York restaurant. So, they decided to get a huge order of Mayonnaise from the large Britain factory. Something that couldn’t be brought across the pond in any wooden boat. Only a ship.. large ship would do!
Serendipitously, the world’s largest ship – The Titanic – was about to take off from the coast of London to New York. Unknown to most now, as its become buried in the annals of history, the ship had another stop. Vera Cruz, Mexico on May 5th! With 12,000 lbs of Mayonnaise onboard from the venerated Hellman’s Mayonnaise factory.
That night on April 14th, when the iceberg sank the ship not only did 1500 of its passengers die in the accident but all of that Mayonnaise also got lost in the waves of the Atlantic. When the experts analyzed the whole accident and investigated into the reasons of the accident, they discovered that the large stock of Mayonnaise had made the ship a bit wobbly and that led to it being a little off course even when the Captain thought it was on the right track. The love of Mayorita amongst the Mexicans, it now seems, caused the greatest shipping tragedy of all time!
Mexico, on the other hand, came to know of the tragedy – the complete loss of its Mayonnaise shipment. The entire country was distraught with the loss! And so, on May 5th, the day Titanic was to arrive in Mexico with the amazing Mayonnaise, Mexicans closed the country down for a full day of National mourning! And called it a national tragedy – the “Sinko de Mayo”! To this day, it is observed as a national holiday. And just as Mahonnaise had become Mayonnaise, Sinko became Cinco. The young generation with no sense of history, calls this day – the Cinco de Mayo! How the coincidences mislead!
Meanwhile, the Mexicans – down in dumps after the loss of Titanic – mixed their large stocks of tequila with lime instead and made Margarita to drown their sorrows of the demise of the days of Mayorita. Never again will they ever make another round of Mayorita – a drink that drowned the Titanic!
Luke Smith of the wealthy Smith family, which owns a beautiful small island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, said the other day – “Even today on a Full Moon night, when a certain constellation is right above the island, sandwiches with Mayo and Tuna wash ashore.” Needless to say, they have their tequila ready to enjoy what was a popular drink a century ago in the amazing by-lanes of Mexico.
This post was inspired by a story on my friend – Ramesh Anand’s FB wall!
Featured Image source: Flickr