Aioli sauce in a glass jar on a wooden background, selective focus
Food - Drink
Aioli: The Ancient Sauce That Makes Everything Taste Better
What is Aioli?
While today you can make aioli by mixing mayonnaise with garlic, traditionally, aioli was made by combining fresh garlic cloves and olive oil in a mortar and pestle until emulsified and fluffy. For centuries, this thick, garlicky sauce has been used to add flavor to dishes from meat and fish to sandwiches, vegetables, and more.
A History of Aioli
While aioli was created in the Mediterranean, there’s some discrepancy as to the sauce’s specific origin. The first written record of aioli comes from Pliny the Elder, who experienced the sauce in Catalonia, Spain, but some believe the sauce originated in ancient Rome, or as a variation of Lebanese toum or Egyptian tooma.
Making Aioli
Ready-made aioli can be found at the grocery store, or you can make a quick "cheater's aioli," with your favorite mayo, garlic, and any other herbs you'd like. You can also make aioli from scratch by first making homemade mayonnaise with eggs, lemon, salt, and olive oil, and then adding garlic and seasonings.
Traditional aioli without the egg makes a flavorful garlicky spread that can be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. Dairy-eaters can enjoy modern aioli, or similar sauces like remoulade, rouille, and tartar, which incorporate other flavors like saffron, chili pepper, capers, pickles, vinegar, and other seasonings.
Eating Aioli
While aioli has a strong flavor of its own, it also enhances the flavors of any dish you add it to. In fact, in Provence, France, there’s a dish called Aïoli Garni, Aioli Monstre, or La Grand Aïoli, which is essentially a platter featuring food like beef, chicken, cod, and seasonal vegetables with a big bowl of aioli at the center for dipping.