Post # 254 “My Hands Just Taste Good”

May 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 254 “My Hands Just Taste Good”

I don’t like potato salad.  It has loads of stuff in it that I just don’t care for.  Potatoes, mayonnaise, raw onions, egg yolk, etc.  And, of course, my parents loved it.  They made it every weekend for the weekend cookout.  Fortunately, we also had a huge garden salad which I did like so it wasn’t a total loss.  Whatever animal flesh we were firing that weekend, chicken, pork, beef, we always featured a potato dish, too.  Roasted in the coals, boiled in a salad, since my mom was Irish, we had potatoes every single meal, just about.

Back then, 40 or 50 years ago, I didn’t like potatoes much at all.  I’m still not a big fan of them (he says as he munches potato chips while writing this blog), but I do get a desire for them once in a while.  Once, when I was 8 or 9, Dad was in Viet Nam and we were having Thanksgiving dinner with friend.  I got handed a plate with a massive amount of mashed potatoes on it.  The stubborn mule in me reared up and I stopped.  Wasn’t gonna eat that.  I ate everything else on my plate but that.  So Mom said I couldn’t have any pumpkin pie until I ate the potatoes.  All the other adults tried to talk her out of it but I came by my stubbornness quite honestly:  from her.  So, no pie for me.  When we got home, I got snotty and pointed to the pie we had there and asked, “Now can I have some pie?”  No pie, no TV, and straight to bed.  But I didn’t have to eat those potatoes either.

So fast forwarding a few years, it’s a weekend.  We’re going to be grilling something over a fire in the back yard.  Friends are coming over.  We’re going to swim in the pool, play games, cook outside, and eat with sand in our teeth.  Dad pulls me aside.   “You’re going to learn to make the potato salad.”  Oh, man! I thought.  I hate that stuff.  For the next couple of hours Dad carefully instructed me on the intricacies of the “perfect” potato salad.  We boiled potatoes; we boiled eggs; we chopped veggies; we measured, scooped, peeled, sliced and diced.  I wanted to learn to cook, but I didn’t want to learn to cook that.  And I wanted to be outside in the pool.  When it was all done, it went into the fridge to chill and I was finally released for a little while.  Until it was time to make the garden salad.

I didn’t eat the potato salad, but every said it was good.  I silently groaned, knowing that I now had a new weekend chore.  Over time, I got to the point where making the potato salad was as rote as making the garden salad, or chocolate chip cookies, or fudge.  No one ever complained, but no one ever raved about it.  Eventually, Dad took over making the potato salad again, saying that he liked to do it.

When he did, I noticed people started raving about the potato salad again.  I watched him make it, curious what he was doing that I wasn’t.  The only difference I could see was that he mixed it by hand in a very gentle manner, while I mixed it with a wooden spoon in a very gentle manner.  Finally, I asked him.

“I’ve been wondering about that, too.” he said.  “I guess my hands just taste good.”

He also makes terrific tacos that my brother and I shove each other out of the way to get to.

Nowadays, I make potato salad a little differently from what I used to back then.  First, I bake one large potato for each person I’m serving.  Once the potatoes have cooled completely – that’s important – I skin them and chop them up roughly.  I use a rough chop so the dressing has a lot to grab on to.  I plan on 1 1/2 hard boiled eggs per person and I use an egg slicer to chop them up.  It’s a neat trick, if you don’t know it.  Put the cooled egg through the egg slicer per normal, but gently hold the egg intact after the slicer is closed.  Pull the egg out and open the egg slicer again putting the egg in at right angle to the normal position.  Slice the egg into the bowl.  Comes out perfectly chopped with no muss and no fuss.  I add about a quarter cup of roasted and salted sunflower seeds, and about a half cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  I chop one scallion per person using the whites and the greens.  Then I add up to three tablespoons of dill pickle relish, depending on how much I’m making and how savory I want it to be.  Then I squirt up to a tablespoon of prepared yellow mustard onto it.  Once all that is done, I start scooping real mayonnaise (not the fake junk or low fat junk or salad dressing junk)  into the bowl.  It eyeball how much but start low.  I use a rubber spatula/scoop and gently mix everything thoroughly, adding more mayonnaise if it seems too dry.  Then I chill it and serve it.  I don’t eat it.  I don’t like potato salad yet.

Enjoy!

potato salad

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