Mahon(Maó – Mahón), Menorca & mayonnaise…:-)

Mahon(Maó ou Mahón) – la ville principale de Minorque a été faite capitale de l’île par les anglais au 18e siècle. Élégante, coquette et sereine, avec des maisons sobres, aux volets vert-foncé et des fenêtres à guillotine, son port est considéré comme l’un des plus agréables de la Méditerranée. Il semble que le nom de la sauce mayonnaise viendrait de Mahon. 🙂 Voilà pk: au 18e siècle, Minorque était sous domination britannique lorsque les français ont débarqué et ont découvert “l’all-i-olli” – une sauce blanche élaborée avec de l’ail et de l’huile d’olives. Le cuisinier de l’armée française s’en est inspiré pour créer une nouvelle sauce, mais sans ail qu’il a simplement baptisée:”mahonnaise”, en hommage à la ville de Mahon. A leur retour en France, cette sauce est devenue très populaire et son nom a dérivé en “mayonnaise”. Ah, j’en consomme peu, mais seulement celle à l’huile d’olives et au citron! 🙂
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P.S. des mots comme Maó & “all-i-olli” sont typiquement minorquins, car à Minorque, on parle surtout une variété locale du catalan – “le menorquí”, avec quelques différences dans la prononciation. Comme avec la plupart des dialectes des Baléares, une particularité remarquable est la forme de l’article défini, appelé article “salat”: le menorquí emploie “es” au masculin et “sa” au féminin au lieu des formes “el” et “la” du catalan standard; l’article “salat” a été historiquement employé dans la province actuelle de Gérone, d’où sont issues la plupart des personnes ayant repeuplé les îles. L’anglais est parlé partout, et voici qqs mots datant de la présence britannique: grevi, xumaquer, boinder ou xoc – dérivés de gravy, shoemaker, bow window et chalk. N.B. Albert Camus, Prix Nobel de littérature a eu des ancêtres minorquins.

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Mahon(Maó or Mahon) – the main city of Menorca, was chosen as capital of the island by the Brits in the 18th century. Elegant, charming and peaceful, with vintage houses, dark green shutters and sash windows, its harbor is supposed to be one of the most pleasant ones of the Mediterranean. It seems that the name of the mayonnaise sauce comes from Mahon… 🙂 Here’s the explanation: during the 18th century, Menorca was British, when the French landed and discovered the “all-i-olli” – kinda white sauce made with garlic and olive oil. It inspired the cook of the French army, he created a new sauce, but without garlic and he simply called it:”mahonnaise”, as a tribute to the city of Mahon. After they returned to France, this sauce became very popular and its name switched into “mayonnaise”. Well, I eat some, now and then, but only the one made with olive oil and lemon! 🙂
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P.S. words like Maó & “all-i-olli” are typically Menorcan, ’cause in Menorca, people speak mostly a local variety of Catalan, called ‘menorquí’ – a little different from current Catalan, especially in pronunciation. As with most Balearic dialects, a remarkable feature is the form of the definite article, called “salat”: ‘menorquí’ employs the ‘es’ for masculine and ‘sa’ for feminine, instead of the Catalan ‘el’ and ‘la’. The “salat” article was historically used in the province of Girona, Spain whose people have repopulated the islands. English is spoken everywhere and here are a few words with their “minorqui’ spelling : grevi, xumaquer, boinder xoc – instead of gravy, shoemaker, bow window and chalk. N.B. the French writer Albert Camus, Nobel Prize for Literature had Menorcan ancestors.
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Have a charming weekend, stay “cool”, healthy and no mayonnaise surfeit! 🙂


About Mél@nie Mélanie Bedos-Toulouse @ Facebook

Posted on 5 June 2015, in melanie. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. love your history of Mayonnaise! Beautiful place!

  2. for sure, when it comes to balearic beaches, quiet-and-shy menorca comes top of the list, with or without the mayo 😉

  3. Melanie, while I’ve never been a fan of mayonnaise, I do enjoy finding out the origin of things. Your photos and info as usual are excellent. If I didn’t live where I do, I would be sorely tempted. Now I am off to Carcassonne for a few days… 😉 Gros bisous, Léa

  4. Love the photos of Menorca, especially the narrow street with all the green-shuttered houses. It looks like a colorful canyon. I’ve always wondered what the difference between aioli and mayonnaise were… thanks for solving that mystery for me! 🙂

  5. I learn something every day! Never knew about the origin of mayonnaise!

    • yes, indeed, Noëlle! 🙂 there are lots of French words or expressions in English, adopted by other languages, too. Btw, you bear a French forename, as well! 🙂

  6. Long live Mayonnaise. Leslie

  7. I like mayonnaise with a bit of taste of lemon 🙂 Many languages and dialects in this story! 🙂 Thanks, Mélanie and you’re right, it needs moderation.

  8. Fascinating! I love learning the origins of words. This setting is gorgeous, and reminds me of my sometime home, a small town on the San Francisco Bay.

  9. The photo of you standing in front of the giant fan blew me away 🙂 – but seriously, there must be a “story” behind the fan. I’d be interested in knowing what it is.

  10. I love “mah/jonnaise”! And now that I’m in the know, I also am in the mood for some. 😉 I loved all the details… It must be a really nice place to visit. 🙂

    • bon appétit! 😉 Minorca e splendida… daca ai timp si “chemare”(sic!), vei gasi alte posturi dedicate acestei insulite baleare pe care-am vizitat-o luna-trecuta. 🙂

  11. I love the various dialects around the world. Some time ago I watched a PBS special on US dialects and there were some from islands around New England which are barely understandable… but very interesting.

    I too like olive oil in my mayo, never tried it with lemon, though. 😀

    • as a language teacher and a linguist, I’m also interested in dialects and accents… oh, I suggest you add some fresh lemon juice in your mayo: it’s tasty and very healthy! 🙂

  12. I will try to keep the mayonnaise quantities under control 😉 … actually I rarely eat it. I like ‘grevi’ much better.

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