Ode to a Potato…Salad

I made potato salad today because ever since Lisa at work got “The Call” about her mom, and told me how her mom makes the best potato salad, I’ve been dreaming about really delicious potato salad.

Lisa’s mom is her “best potato salad person” in her life. In my life it’s my mother-in-law. She makes the kind of potato salad that gets people to say every time, “Nobody makes better potato salad than Ruth.”

My friend Alison is the “best potato salad person” in her family and she makes some weird concoction including potato skins and bacon grease that she calls “German potato salad”.

My kind of potato salad people basically make egg salad and add potatoes and celery.

There is an inside joke about how my MIL will not give a recipe to someone she doesn’t like. She denies it, of course, but when J and I were first dating it made me feel like I needed to get a recipe out of her in order to be sure she liked me. My husband is very close to his mom, so it became important to me. A milestone I needed to reach.

J got the recipe for his moms date cookies, Swedish meatballs and chicken with wild rice soup for us.

I’m not sure even why I wanted the potato salad recipe. I hate peeling potatoes. The first Thanksgiving I ever hosted J came over in the morning, before he went to his family dinner, and peeled all the potatoes for me. (I know, right? How could I not marry him after that? Peeling potatoes is SEXY!”)

It took me awhile to work up the nerve to ask about the potato salad. I was going for the grand prize, but also terrified of being rejected. I didn’t ask until I was pretty sure she’d say yes.

“I don’t really have a recipe,” she began, and my heart sank. DENIED!

But then she did go on to tell me the recipe, sort of.

Eight potatoes and eight eggs, all boiled and chopped. Celery, onions, Miracle Whip and “a little bit of sugar”.

I make mine with half miracle whip, in honor of my MIL and half mayo in honor of my family. I add a little mustard and some finely chopped radishes, and of course, grandpa’s secret ingredient.

“It’s the sweet pickle juice,” Gram told me one time, when I was marveling over the delicious chicken salad my grandpa had made, “he puts it in all the salads, everyone always wonders what it is but always says how delicious it is.”

Gram made the sweet pickles, so she said it with a bit of pride. I don’t make sweet pickles, so I keep a store bought jar in the fridge.

“I think this potato salad might be better than my mom’s” J said to me at dinner.

Now that he said that, I may never make potato salad again. I could not get a higher endorsement, so why bother?

It is with great honor that I accept the “best potato salad person” position, I promise to carry on the tradition, and to freely share my recipe with anyone—-but I don’t really have a “recipe”….


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