Nearly everyone has a favorite dish that their mother (or father, or guardian!) served growing up; a dish that makes them feel comforted, at home, safe. A dish that only tastes right when prepared by said caretaker. For me, it’s my momma’s potato salad.
I can’t remember the first time I had it – but I do know that it was relatively early on in my childhood – let’s say sometime between 1992 and 1996. It had to be early on because for a while it was one of the only things I, the world’s former pickiest eater, would eat at a family function. I’d skip the burgers (unless it was served plain), the hot dogs, the corn, everything, and fill up on plates full of potato salad. But of course, I wouldn’t try any other potato salad; I’d only eat my momma’s. In fact, I am still slightly picky about potato salads and so far the only other I consider worthy is the red bliss potato salad at Whole Foods.
Things got really interesting in my college apartment before I “expanded my food horizons” and I would make my momma’s potato salad on a bi-weekly basis to have enough for every day of the week. I must have eaten 10,000 potatoes my sophomore year. My college roommate, Kati, can attest to my cooking habits, as can my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time. Of course I could never get the potato salad to taste quite right, so eventually I gave up and gave in to my husband’s demands for me to try new foods.
But, as weird as it sounds, potato salad was a sort of lifesaver for me. As a strapped for cash college student adjusting to a new city (and who was too proud to admit it) with a rapid metabolism, it was hard for me to keep my stomach from rumbling. And yes, it was my fault for being a picky eater. But the power of carbohydrates and high calorie mayonnaise kept me nourished and thinking of my family at home made me smile. All weird, but true.
So it doesn’t surprise me that after almost a year away from Virginia I began to feel some hunger pains for my momma’s potato salad. Lucky enough, the husband had tickets to the Nationals/Braves baseball game this past Saturday so a trip to Virginia was on the books. After a request for potato salad via a quick text my mom totally delivered in epic fashion; a bowl was waiting for me when we arrived early Friday morning at 2AM.
Serves a crowd or one petite young lady for 4-5 days
2 lbs red potatoes, skins on, cut into halves for boiling in large pot of salted water
1/2 Vidalia onion or more to taste, chopped
2 or 3 Kosher dill pickles, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 tomato, sliced in quarters for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil the potatoes until tender (test with a fork). Then drain the potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool. When the potatoes are cooled, add in the chopped onions and pickles, as well as the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together until well combined and add a little more mayo if you want it creamier (better!). Finally, transfer the potato salad to a serving bowl and garnish with the hard-boiled egg and tomato slices.