HOMEWOOD, Ala. – On my third visit to Saw’s BBQ, I finally accepted my own hypocrisy.
Why am I a hypocrite? Because I hate mayonnaise with the fire of 1,000 suns. I agree with every word the great Drew Magary wrote in his brilliant anti-mayo screed. I fail to understand why anyone would choose to ruin a perfectly good meal with a condiment that tastes the way despair feels and smells like a truck hauling skunks crashed into a paper mill. I should not love the white sauce that adorns each piece of perfectly smoked chicken at Saw’s, but I do. I can’t help it.
At the great condiment family reunion, mayo and Saw’s white sauce aren’t siblings, but they are first cousins. Only a few ingredients separate Canada’s favorite fail dressing and the scrumptious, tangy, ivory masterpiece from Saw’s. Given my steadfast stance against mayo, I should spit out Saw’s sauce and cleanse my palate with Listerine before continuing my meal. But I love it. If a few drops fall off the chicken, I sop them up with the meat. I realize this makes me a raging hypocrite, but the taste buds want what they want.
I blame sensory memory for this predicament. Saw’s white sauce tastes almost exactly like the creamy Italian dressing that was served on the salad bar at the Pizza Hut in Key Largo, Fla., in the late ’80s. This is not an insult to Saw’s sauce. I would have drunk that Pizza Hut dressing by the gallon. While the football coaching staff at Coral Shores High — of which my dad was a member — went through its weekly draining of beer pitchers strategy session on offseason Friday nights, my elementary-school self played Galaga and Road Blasters and smothered my salads with that glorious dressing. My mom never had the heart to tell me the ingredients barely differed from the mayo that made me gag, but as I grew older and stretched my gustatory wings, I realized the horrible, horrible truth.
This made my immediate love of Saw’s white sauce difficult to reconcile. On the first visit, I sampled it cautiously, like a dog sniffing an unfamiliar human. On the second, I gulped down self-loathing with every drop. How could I, a dedicated general in the fight against the Mayonnaise Industrial Complex that Magary described, love an egg-based condiment so much? On the third visit, I stopped fighting the sauce. It can’t help the fact that its close relative makes sandwiches taste as if they were dipped in a septic tank. It only wants to make my chicken taste better, and who am I to deny the sauce – and myself – that pleasure?