As I sit here enjoying a beer on the Saturday before Memorial Day it appears that summer is “unofficially” here again. I never finish my beer. All my friends make fun of me because I never finish a beer. It tends to get warm before I get to the bottom. But as the days get warmer and longer and you just come in from cutting the grass, nothing beats the first few sips of a cold beer.
Summer also means the start of picnic, church social and potluck season. Picnics aren’t the exclusive domain of the south, they have them everywhere. But picnic foods aren’t the same everywhere. I’ve known people from all over the country and have been exposed to their regional favorites. Did you know they have white hot dogs in upstate New York, they call them ‘coonies’. They tend to pair them with something called salt potatoes. It’s not bad, it’s just very different from what I grew dining on during summer. Everyone knows hot dogs should be an unnatural color of dark pink.
The potatoes at my house growing up were usually of the ‘salad’ variety. My mom’s potato salad was one of the top 50 or so of my favorite things she made. But her version is, by far, not the only version around. There’s German, with large potatoes with the peel still on (yuck) and bacon. I’ve had a version with apples and walnuts. Why? There’s a version where you use mayonnaise and celery. And I’ve seen people really ‘church it up’ with oil and vinegar and green peppers. None of these versions are exactly bad, they’re just not the best. I don’t know, maybe these people just don’t know any better.
First and foremost the potato size is very important. You don’t want large chunks of potato with the peel still on. Please people, peel your potatoes. And cut them down to a manageable size. Small cubes are the preferred size. You shouldn’t have to bite off a piece of each potato, you should be able to get 2 or 3 pieces in your mouth with each bite. That’s a good size guide. Secondly, perfect potato salad needs to be mustard based. And it needs to be plain old yellow mustard, not Dijon. No celery or green peppers or onions are welcome either. Your green should come from sweet salad cubes, not dill. You’ll also need a couple of boiled eggs, also cut into small cubes. Add mayonnaise to reach the desired consistency and taste and there you have it. Nothing fancy required. It’s simple, it’s tasty and it’s the best way to make potato salad.
I may never finish my beer but I always finish my mom’s potato salad:
Mary Helen’s Potato Salad
You will need 2 – 3 potatoes, 2 – 3 eggs, yellow mustard, Sweet salad cubes, mayo, salt and pepper.
Boil potatoes and eggs together until a fork goes into the potatoes easily. I like to put them in the fridge until cool or cold. Potatoes dice easier then. Dice potatoes and eggs, add about a tablespoon of mustard and 1 cup of pickles, add mayo and salt and pepper to taste. Mix and return to fridge until ready to serve.
Travis Hicks - Contributing author
Travis Hicks was born and raised in Marietta GA, and with the exception of a very brief period of living in Denver CO has lived in metro Atlanta his entire life. A childhood filled with playing outside until way after the streetlights came on, being an expert on the original Star Wars trilogy and his induction into the Front Yard Football Hall of Fame has produced the bon vivant that is Travis Hicks. Travis developed his palate for true southern food by way of his mom’s cornbread, his dad’s mashed potatoes (and knowing to never let the reverse to ever occur). Also adding to Travis’ culinary expertise is knowing that Barbeque is a noun and never a verb.