Let’s talk potato salad. (It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.)
Potato salad is more than just the mainstay of pot lucks and picnics, it’s a vessel for passing on a tasty bit of family history. As the story in today’s Des Moines Register by Vickie D. Ashwill is headlined, potato salad is “a family tradition.”
The Register recently asked readers to share their potato salad recipes and more than 50 responded. Many of those recipes that had interesting lineage were featured in the article.
One recipe had been passed on through six generations after being imported to Iowa from New York. Another was credited for sealing the deal when one young man was so impressed by his picnic date’s potato salad that he proposed and they wed. Only later did he learn that potato salad was all she could make.
There were tales of secret ingredients and special techniques and one sad story of a recipe lost. Peg Funke and her siblings told Ashwill that they “have no real clue as to where [mom’s] special recipe originated, since she never found the time to even scribble down her 'spuddy little secret’.”
One common thread throughout the article is that of fond family memories evoked from this simple side dish. One family conceded that there is likely to be a spirited dispute over possession of the green-speckled potato salad bowl used by the family for the past 40 years.
In my childhood, potato salad was pretty much potato salad, tasty but without any special memories. In my adulthood, however, I’ve become an ardent devotee of the Nut Tree potato salad my wife and I learned to make when we lived in Vacaville, California, home to the now-defunct and much-missed Nut Tree complex.
I’m perfectly willing to share this recipe with our children, even though none of them has ever asked for it. After all, what’s life without a good potato salad story?
Writing prompt of the day: What recipes do you associate with family stories?
Flickr photo courtesy of erix!.