Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thoughts on Grandma's Potato Salad

I must admit I have become amazed at the evolution of "Grandma's Potato Salad"!  If you google Grandma's Potato Salad, there are loads and loads of possibilities.  How is this possible?  After living in Scotland for almost 30 years, I believe this phenomena is mainly an American development.  I now wonder if our ancestors who left their home countries missed their traditional food and the evolution of other recipes, including potato salad. began! 

So on a more personal level, my interest in the terminology of "Grandma's Potato Salad" started when my Mom and I realized my cousin was calling the recipe we always referred to as Grandma's  as Aunt Marie's Potato Salad.  For years, we did wonder at why she called it that.  However, in thinking about this, I believe what happened was - Mom and I left the area while my Grandmother was still the official family potato salad maker. But eventually she must have lost the energy or something and Aunt Marie took over the mantle of family potato salad maker.  Since the connection to Grandma was through my cousin's dad, it would make sense that he did not perpetuate the family potato salad recipe!  I would imagine most family recipes are handed down from the female members.  I hope that is not sexist, but it does seem to make sense. 

The way I see it is , we continued to use the same recipe and always, to this day, referred to it as Grandma's Potato Salad, but to my cousin the exact recipe is Aunt Marie's.  This must have happened for many years all over the United States!

So for my immediate family, what was once my Grandma's potato salad, evolved into my children's Grandma's potato salad.  And now I am making it and guess what, I am also a Grandma!

So after this tremendously long introduction, here is what I use as the recipe for our family's Grandma's Potato Salad!

Grandma's Potato Salad

First of all I must admit I went on automatic pilot and had to reign myself in every so often so I could attempt to share this recipe in a manner people might understand! 

I forgot the onion in this!

4 lbs potatoes  (In a recipe Mom gave me, she noted she preferred red potatoes, but any will do)
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
1 plus cups mayo
1 plus tablespoons yellow American style mustard
vinegar and sugar to taste
salt and pepper

(Mom always put celery seed in the salad too, but I have difficulty finding it in Scotland and, frankly, don't miss it!)

Boil potatoes with skins on then peel them while warm. So much easier than peeling first!  Cube them and place in very large bowl.  Add celery, onion and eggs. 

In a separate bowl, mix everything else.  Go easy on the vinegar, you will know when the proportion of mustard, sugar and vinegar works with the mayo. This is really a matter of personal taste and I don't believe it could really be measured.

I am excited about tonight's dinner!  Friends are coming over and we are having a very Southern style evening meal - pulled pork, potato salad, 24 hour salad, coleslaw and corn on the cob.  All the feeling of a barbeque without the fuss of firing up the coals!  My friend is bringing dessert, so that might not be in the theme. But I do know it will be delicious!

"--Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin'."  

 Found on a blog called New Around Town


  1. I got a whole lot of great comments on my facebook and have decided to cut and paste them here so I can keep them! This first one is from my niece:

    Fun! We refer to it as "mother's potato salad". When I was young daddy always called my grandmother, "mother" (because she was his mother" I picked up on it and called her "mother" and it never changed! So what we refer to as "mothers potato salad" is in reality "grandmothers potato salad" :)

  2. From my cousin: In my mom's potato salad miracle whip has always been the ingredient instead of mayo, thus, Mary is correct in calling the recipe my Moms (Aunt Marie's potato salad). Now we know the difference between Grandma's & my Mom's. Thsnks for posting the recipe

  3. From another cousin!: I still call it "Grandma's potato salad," because after all, your Aunt Marie is my grandma. My mom still uses pretty much the same recipe, with a few small alterations, including sprinkling paprika on top before it a little bit of deviled egg flavor. Most of her changes are to quantities, but the ingredients are the same. She and I also only use Miracle Whip.