I never knew my grandmothers, as they passed before I was old enough to know them. But I make things in the kitchen that they made, and in part due to that, I’ve heard about what amazing women they both were throughout my life.
When I was eleven-years-old, my grandpa (my mom’s dad) got re-married to a woman he met square dancing. The wedding was filled with senior citizens in square dancing costumes (outfits?). Marie became my grandma, and she taught me to bake bread, among other kitchen projects. It was a dream-come-true to experience what many of my friends already knew: what is it like to cook and bake with grandma.
We sat down at the table. That’s how she did it.
One of my favorite things Marie made was her potato salad. I had never really loved potato salad before hers. That is saying something because I’m pretty sure the potato is my perfect food. Not my favorite (see: king crab legs), but the one I love the most for its versatility, taste, texture, cultural crossover…say anything bad about the potato and I’ll disagree completely. I mean, you can even get a broken light-bulb out of a socket with a potato…c’mon.
That was her secret….well, that, and the specific type of mayonnaise.
Today I’m prepping ingredients for Marie’s Potato Salad. She didn’t write down the recipe. She just made it. Because I was obsessed with her potato salad, at some point my mom took notes as Marie taught me to make it (thanks Mom). It was one of those memories that I didn’t know would stick with me for the rest of my life. It comes back to me every time I make (and share) Marie’s Potato Salad.
We sat down at the table. That’s how she did it. She got all of her eggs and potatoes boiled, and then sat at the kitchen table (in this case at our home in Colorado) and very patiently chopped up the onion, celery, the egg, and diced (small) the potatoes, placing them into the large prep bowl. We sat together as my mom took notes, and Marie explained how and why she chopped everything small so that every bite was a perfect concert of flavor and texture. That was her secret….well, that, and the specific type of mayonnaise. She swore up and down that you had to use Best Foods (or depending on your location, it is called “Hellman’s”). She added a bit of vinegar, and also a bit of half & half or cream to get the texture right. She salted and peppered to perfection, and topped it all off with flavorless paprika to make it look pretty.
Today I’m making ten pounds of potatoes ready for assembling the day of the party I’m attending (my cousin’s house from my dad’s side of the family). I don’t need the recipe anymore, but I shared it on my blog a couple of years ago, here, for those of you that want a special recipe for potato salad. Marie probably also didn’t know that her potato salad would be one of my favorite dishes to share, or that the day she narrated her process to teach me, and record for later would live on.
To me, this is the very reason for sharing the kitchen, whether the preparation of the food or the eating. This is why I write this blog and my cookbooks.
Try making Marie’s Potato Salad and my own creation Loaded Baked Potato Salad here. Make it with and for someone you love.
More potato posts: