Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Poor Imitation of the Original

Mitch and Greg sampling the potato salad to make sure it's "OK"
There are two things my mother is famous for--her baked beans and her potato salad. The family enjoys them so much that some won't eat anybody's elses! My husband's and sons' greatest joy is opening the fridge at her house and seeing "the potato salad bowl"

When my boys were kids, they did't think they liked potato salad. Then one Christmas they decided to try Grandma's. Of course, they loved it. They looked forward to it every year, so I decided to try to make it myself. I, of course, asked Mom for her recipe.

"Well, I use 5 pounds of red potatoes and boil them in their skins. Then Miracle Whip, a little mustard, a little sugar and a little vinegar. I mix that together while the potatoes are boiling so it has time to set. Then just mix it all together when you have peeled the potatoes."

OK--sounds simple enough. I set to work.

The results weren't even close.

"It's good, but...."

I call Mom the next year when I attempt potato salad.

"Hmm, I don't know. Did you peel the potatoes when they were hot and mix everything together right away?"

Well, no!  That wasn't part of the directions she gave me.

I try that. After burning my fingers the results that were a little better, but still not good. I quiz her at Christmas when she pulls out the famous bowl.

"Exactly how much mustard, sugar and vinegar?"  That's got to be the problem, right?


We went through years of me quizzing her and finding out more little secrets to the potato salad. There was crumbled bacon, hard boiled eggs, and how long to boil the potatoes. My results were always close, but a poor imitation of the original.

The last secret divulged came at the lake one summer. "Well, do you mix the bacon grease with the Miracle Whip and other stuff and let it sit while the potatoes cook?"

Bacon Grease?!?!?!?!?!??!  At no time in the 7 or 8 years I had been making potato salad did she tell me anything about bacon grease!!!!!!!!

My husband has now labeled my potato salad almost as good as my mom's.  So have the boys. They figure it's as close as anyone is going to get.  My mom thinks it is as good as hers and said if we put my potato salad in her bowl, no one would know the difference. A couple of Christmas's ago, she told my sisters that the potato salad bowl was mine when she dies...

It's an honor--but I still think mine is a poor imitation of the original.

1 comment:

  1. Ah-h that bacon grease. It makes so much taste better. Glad you finally found the real secret! I love the way you moved through the story, with dialog, year after year. Congratulations on getting to have the bowl. Special honor for sure.