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Summer meal

In an uncharacteristic burst of energy today — Alice is coming by for dinner with Kathleen, J.P., and me — I went beyond making the spaghetti sauce and the salad and the salad dressing. I bought a cantaloupe and some prosciutto for the traditional appetizer. But, thinking of tomorrow, I also made my mother’s variation on potato salad, salade a la Murn.

You can read here why I call my late mother “Murn,” but please do not tell Kathleen that I am divulging the recipe here, because she thinks I could win some sort of contest with it. But no contest prize is greater than the approbation of you, my dear readers. Herewith the recipe.

Salade a la Murn

Take four baking potatoes (red potatoes of equivalent weight if you prefer), cut them into smallish cubes and boil them, salting the water as you would for pasta.

While they are cooking, take half a medium-size onion (Vidalia would be good) and mince. Then cut into small pieces four carrots, six ribs of celery and four or five radishes. Chop half a head of cabbage, green or red, and put into a large bowl with the other chopped vegetables.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and let them cool. Douse them plentifully with malt vinegar. When the potatoes are cool, combine them with the raw vegetables and stir in mayonnaise. Do not overdo. You want to be able to taste the constituent vegetables, so coat them lightly with mayonnaise instead of drowning them as in the commercial productions.

Cover and chill. Eat by itself or with the crackers of your choice. The salad will be better on the second day, if there is any left.

As you experiment with the recipe, you will be able to adjust the proportions of the vegetables to your tastes. But I warn you that adding green or red peppers or cucumbers is a bad idea, because they quickly get slimy.

This salad has been my stay and comfort for fifty years. Try it and discover its benefits.





Posted by John McIntyre at 5:07 PM | | Comments (11)


My mother's recipie for potato salad is as follow: Use red potatoes and leave the skins on. Whilst said potatoes are cooking, put some chopped fresh chives and celery into the glass bowl she always used for potato salad: when potatoes are cooked and cooled, chop into small cubes and add to bowl. Before adding mayonnaise, add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Then gently mix - refrigerate, ideally overnight. Garnish ad lib - tomatoes look nice and fresh.

I can't wait to try this. I've been looking for a good opportunity to work on Julia Child's mayonnaise recipe.

Here's my thyme/lime potato salad: While you boil red potatoes while skins, in a separate bowl mix olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. While that marinates, squeeze a couple of limes. Mix everything together, adjusting the seasonings for your taste.

Hmmm ... out here we call it a "stalk" of celery. (No matter - another of those pop/soda things.)

I'm going to make this tomorrow for Tuesday's supper, since it's better the second day.


Thank you for sharing, John!
I'll try it. :)

What you failed to mention is that after eating it on the second day you will wake up on the third day wearing a bow tie!

So what's the joke about the three clergymen, already?

I love ambiguity. It reminds me why English is such a fun language.

...take half a medium-size onion (Vidalia would be good) and mince.

Boy, did I ever read that wrong. I was suddenly thinking "oh, it's some sort of Bolognaise."

Is it just me, or would "...and mince it" be clearer? Is that technically incorrect?

Jon, just fwiw, that's a confusion that would only arise for speakers of other than American English. I had to read your comment a couple times to understand what you meant, before remembering that mince refers to ground meat in the UK and Commonwealth countries.

"Mince" means ground up food stuff here in the western U.S. too, so I got Jon's meaning.

Thanks for the recipe, I think I will try this. I don't care for the potato salads with gobs and gobs of mayonnaise.

I'm going to make your mum's potato salad...we're going to see friends at the beach and I wanted something to take. Sounds different and delish.


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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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