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May 25, 2009

Potato salad and Memorial Day



Wow. I never realized how unattractive potato salad was until I went look for a photo for it. Actually mine isn't unattractive because I never overcook the potatoes, I use vinaigrette as well as mayonnaise so it doesn't get too mayonnaise-y, and I chop up olives with pimiento and celery in it, which adds color. But I'm sure if I took a photo of it, I would end up with a big white blob. This photo, from the Idaho Potato Commission, isn't too bad. ...

I haven't done anything for food for dinner tonight, and we aren't going anywhere, but I might make some potato salad. I have a craving for it.

One way Dining@Large is helpful to me is that I use it as a personal journal. I went back to see what I ate and what I was doing last Memorial Day. That reminded me that last year people wished me a "happy Memorial Day." Funny. This year people have just said, "Have a good weekend." As though the war part was no longer something anyone was thinking about.

(AP photo)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 9:03 AM | | Comments (29)


"Happy Memorial Day" sounds like an oxymoron to me, right up there with "Happy Good Friday".

My mother's potato salad was more colorful. She included carrots, celery, radishes, onion, and a good bit of cabbage. (Sometimes green bell pepper and cucumber, but they tend to get slimy.) I like the idea of vinaigrette as well as mayonnaise (which I use sparingly); I generally splash a little malt vinegar on the potatoes as soon as they are cooked and before they are mixed with the other vegetables. It's heartier, and perhaps healthier, than typical potato salad.

The hard boiled eggs mixed in the potato salad is my favorite part.

I always make hot german potato salad. MMMMM, bacony.

We spent four hours yesterday taking the pictures of friends and family to the Wall. Normally I do this on Saturday morning but this year Sunday fit better. For three hours we watched 500,000 members of Rolling Thunder ride by and then we went to the Memorial. As usual the sight of veterans collapsing in tears as they remembered their friends and comrades was gut wrenching. It is a shame that this weekend has become just another excuse to barbeque and go to the beach instead of honoring our war dead. For as long as I able my weekend will include a trip to the Wall not only to remember friends and family but all who paid the ultimate price.

On a happier note we had a great dinner at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Gaithersburg. Pizza grilled over an oak grill, shrimp salad on a pita with the best house made potato chips in the world, and grouper fried and served on thick sliced pumperknickel. Excellent food and some of the best beer in the country.

Ukrop's, an amazing chain of grocery stores in the Richmond, Va., area, makes the best potato salad I've ever had. The secret ingredient? Sour cream.

I love Ukrop's. EL

I had a mildly interesting store-bought potato salad experience recently.
When I don't feel like making potato salad and the deli is closed, I buy the pre-made potato salad in little containers near the deli at Safeway. The one I like is called Southern Potato Salad. (Yeah, I know, I know it's probably cr*p to foodies here but I like it).

I was down South recently on vacation, and wanted pre-made potato salad, and found the same little containers near the deli at the Winn-Dixie. Except there was no "Southern Potato Salad" choice. After examining the contents of the several choices, I deduced that "Traditional Potato Salad" seemed to be the same as the "Southern" I buy up here. And it was. Exactly the same.

This potato salad is obviously produced for national distribution (scary) but it's interesting they change the names on you depending where you are.

LJ? Come on. Put your thinking cap on. Do you think people in China go out for "Chinese" food? I'm guessinng they just call it food. If someone from elsewhere came here and looked for "Maryland crab cakes" on a menu they wouldn't find them. Location location location.

And now I'm going out for an American lunch, although I don't know where I might find it around here.

My mother's potato salad included Durkee's dressing and some pickle juice. I think she used twice as much finely chopped celery as onion, which gave it a nice crunch. If we went to a picnic where there were half a dozen different potato salads, Mom's always disappeared first.

We were out working in the garden when we saw five planes zoom overhead--is that the "Missing Man" formation? If so, very appropriate to the day.

Just sharing a mayonnaise free, simple and SUPER tasty potato salad recipe:


Owlie, walk out your front door and start walking west. You'll soon run into the Cheesecake Factory. I'm sure you can get an American lunch there.

My potato salad has always gotten raves and I too, douse the warm potatoes in a mixture of vinegar, oil, and Dijon mustard. After the potatoes cool down, I add the chopped celery, the thinly sliced tops of scallions, chopped hard boiled egg, and mayo. Season to taste and YUM!
As for German potato salad, I love it as well.

Ryan, I'm going to try that recipe--it sounds different and very tasty. The only potato salad I don't like is the overly sweet variety some grocery stores sell.

hmpstd, I agree with you.

sorry for double-posting

My mom makes a great German potato salad, with bacon too.
Last Wednesday, I was in Rosemary Beach at the Wild Olives Cafe and Market. I had (as a side) their baked potato salad. I thought it was just an ordinary potato salad until I tried it. It was probably the best potato salad I've ever had. Not too mayonnaise-y, perhaps it had some of the malt vinegar JMc described. Sorry I can't be more specific, but it was delicious!!

Not to shill, but everything my fiancee and I have had at Wild Olives has been excellent. Well, the margherita pizza was just okay. Amy's frozen version (with parmesan cheese added) might be better.

I'll try to talk the folks into going to Rosemary Beach for dinner when they are down in a couple weeks. Then I could perhaps get some info for a guest post. Its like a half hour drive so they may balk.

Rosemary Beach is like another world compared to PCB and Destin. Just take a right onto 30A and you are transported into a different world. And its only five miles from me.

Ryan, thanks for posting an egg free (mayo free) potato salad recipe. Unfortunately I don't have half of those ingredients. It sounds yummy though!

Just watched Jeopardy and none of the categories had anything to do with Memorial Day. Another sign of the times.

Was I the only one who reads this blog that did anything related to honoring the war dead this weekend? Did anyone even buy a poppy from the American Legion?

Hey PCB Rob - I was in your old neighborhood today - picked up a pit beef sandwich at Charcoal Grill (it was raining here, but I needed bbq fix).

EEL - There were no American Legion folks where I was today, but I did pause with others at 3 p.m. to remember our war heroes, including those in my family, as our president suggested. The churches near my house all rang bells. Though this is a designated remembrance day, I think the best way to remember our war dead is to appreciate daily the freedom we and others have thanks to their efforts, and to not take it for granted.

EEL: ironically, this is the one day I did not spend on thinking specifically about veterans, but that is mainly because I do it forty hours a week. Along with remembering those who have died in war, increasingly we need to remember those who live and are suffering. There are many veterans of the current wars, who in years past would have died. Now they live with horrific physical and psychological damage that will last all their lives and require extensive care. All too frequently this also includes high tech prosthetics, and specially adapted housing. Most of all, there is the cost of marriages and employment lost in the service of overreacting to a child in the grocery store, who triggers the adrenaline rush of a potential bomber. In January, the Army had more active duty deaths from suicide than from combat. We need to keep our military in our prayers every day until they are safely home, and many of them for a lifetime after that.

On a lighter note, and to keep this a food blog - I am known in my family for having eaten my American Legion poppy as a toddler.

EEL and City Redux, give credit where it's due - hmpstd started this off before it got to the original Memorial Day/potato salad topic.

oh, I wrorte that before I saw City Redux's last post. Never mind!

As I watched the news story about the reading of 148,000 names in Riverside, CA I thought the same thing as City Redux. Couldn't that effort and volunteer effort have been put to much better use helping the living and the survivors? City Redux I have to hand to you voluteering 40 hrs a week to help our soldiers. Keep up the good work.

Oh, EEL, don't give me too much credit. I am an employee, not a volunteer. I had already retired from a totally different career and unretired to do this.

EEL, unfortunately, I spent most of the day traveling home. And our Memorial Day meal ended up being Chinese delivery - too exhausted for anything else.

I always do a better job on Veteran's Day. A number of years ago, I called my dad on Veteran's Day to thank him for his service to our country. It was kind of a joke when I first did it, but I immediately realized that I meant it. I haven't missed that phone call since, and my mom reported to me that he looks forward to it all day long (and many of his fellow veterans have expressed jealousy that their kids don't do the same!).

Major points to sean! If my Dad were still alive I would gladly follow suit.

I was migrating home from the beach yesterday, but it did cross my mind several times that it was a day to be grateful to our service men and women. So we decided that next year when we camp on Memorial Day Weekend, we will bring several American Flags.

As for the potato salad thing, the best I've ever had is the 3 potato salad at Santonis (when they have it). I can't comment on home made. Mine sucks. But a former bandmate of my partner made one with bacon that was amazing. Bacon rocks everything.

The best potato salad in the world is Angel's supermarket in Pasadena. Although I wish it had more egg. Whenever we have it in the house I can't keep my hands off of it and often end up eating it for breakfast. Haven't tried Santoni's tater salad but I will now!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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