Themes - Gracious and Good, Level Up
Food/Tech Tie In – Boiling Potatoes, Dicing, Grating, Mixing
Homage – My Nana Esther
Im not sure how many Gracious and Good stories start with, or lead back to my grandmother Esther. Im sure its quite a few...and this is another one.
As shared in a couple of prior BLOG posts, growing up, I would not eat anyone’s potato salad other than my grandmothers. On the real, I would try to cause...you cant go over folks house or to the cook out, and refuse their mother’s, aunt’s, or any other family members potato salad. That said, the best I could do was push it around the plate, filling up on other things like that stack of magical sliced bread that came in the pkg with the red yellow and blue polka dots, on ‘erbodys table in those days or at least the brand X version.
Nana’s potato salad was always on point. It never varied and along with her fried chicken and greens that were the go to meal eliciting that “Mmmm, this good Nana” from me, and a smile from her, it was something I looked forward to cause often, she would make it just for me. OMG teary eyed moment here.
Ok, I have recovered as we can’t have the mascara running...what!?!...we know who I am. What I have learned about why I loved Nana’s potato salad is that it was classic with a twist, and the biggest thing was ...NO SWEET PICKLE RELISH!!! No shade, ok shade but my taste buds are leading the way here. I could not and still can’t get down with, sweet pickle relish in potato salad. I don’t care who’s it is including my mothers (a source of conflict), famous Chef (insert name here), or yours. There I said it!
I think the preference of my Nanas Potato salad over my others led to some mother daughter fallings out, but my gastro system deemed it worth it, and that included all the soul food dishes that went with. So BIG fallings out tied to my preference for my grandmothers cooking which I was too young to understand, would indeed occur from time to time. I mean, I clearly remember a phone call about gravy between my mother and grandmother...with my mother's always being unsavory and pale-ish and my grandmother's being light brown and full of flavor...let me tell YOU...
Wait...why y’all up in my business?!?!
Esther’s potato salad started with no name potatoes. Clutch the pearls! No Yukon Gold, Red Bliss, Waxy vs Starchy, they were just regular ole’ potatoes available at the grocery store across the street from the house (most likely Russets, which were used for everything). Boiled, peeled and cut, they were mixed with grated NOT chopped onions along with carrots, celery, hard boiled eggs, mayo (the H, cause we we were Jerseyites, albeit I work with the D living in the South these days), salt and pepper. The classics that made her potato salad the bomb, free of sweet things that I have no idea why other folks used, was all that was needed. There may have been some yellow mustard in there, but that was it. And I LOVED IT
Fast forward, her recipe was, is and most likely will remain the base for any rendition that I come up with. I have evolved it over the years with the addition of curry, cumin, garam masala, parsley...and lets not forget the sweet peas delivering on all the yums. Serving it framed in a mold then decorated with greenery or scooped and adorned with an editable flower, delivers on the “I went to culinary school” thing. That said, served straight up, with the juice from the onion and the sweetness of the carrot gracing the palate, it is the flavor profile’s base that will forever hold a heart print in and throughout my spirit.
From HereInMyKitchen to yours, I share the memory of this dish with the hope that a little bit of Esther...comes with it.