Some people say potato salad comes from German cuisine. Others tell you it is French. Or from some other European country.
But I think potato salad is actually thoroughly American.
Potatoes are a "new world" plant. Back in the 16th century, before Europeans ever knew there was even another continent, Spanish explorers sailed to what would later become the "Americas." They were looking for gold and plenty in the mythical kingdom of El Dorado.
What they found were plenty of potatoes, and that was their real treasure.
They brought potatoes back to Europe, where it met with mixed reviews, especially because so many people thought potatoes were poisonous. Others refused to eat potatoes because they weren't mentioned in the bible.
Fortunately potatoes are nourishing and easy to grow, so in the poorer European communities the people were obliged to eat them or starve.
And so by the time Europeans settled in what would become the United States, potatoes were a staple part of the diet.
With all this in mind, I say again: potato salad is an American food, because -- it all started with the potato. And so it's the perfect side dish for a 4th of July picnic, barbecue or any other sort of get-together.
For my money -- potato salad is best when served at room temperature. Not hot, not cold. There are a zillion versions. Here's one:
Potato Salad with Lemon-Oregano Vinaigrette
- 2-1/2 pounds small red potatoes
- lightly salted water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (1-1/2 teaspoons dried)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain under cold water and peel, if desired. Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice and toss ingredients gently. Add the scallions, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Toss gently. Let rest at least 1 hour before serving.
Makes 4-6 servings