Monday, July 6, 2015

Potato Salad Plagiarism


And for the record, blogging is not like riding a bike. I couldn't even remember my email address to log into blogger. That's how long it's been. But after almost a year, I am excited to report that I finally thought of something to say. Or rather, something to ask.

Does anyone want any left over potato salad?

Anyone? Anyone?

Free of charge? (OBO)

Every year I receive a text from my bro-in-law asking if I will bring a potato salad to the annual 4th of July party. And every year I write back and say,"Can I bring a pasta salad instead?" And he says, "Nope."

"Baked beans, maybe?" I ask. "Cowboy Cavier? Seven-layer dip? Something I can add jalapeno to?Something that packs a little punch? Has a little edge to it? Has a little heat under it?"

"Whatever you want," he writes back. "But bring potato salad too."

I have spent a lot of time analyzing, calculating, and graphing this request. Based on the scientific method, I have come to the conclusion that everything I can do, someone else can do better. That's why I get stuck bringing potato salad.

Either that or they're trying to hide my candle under a bushel (of potatoes).

I'm not a huge potato salad eater. I don't hate it, I just can't put cilantro and lime in it, so I have no experience preparing it. Because of this I tell my brother-in-law that I will have to buy the potato salad from Costco, and that I won't even think about putting it in a bowl and pretending I made it.

You'd think he would say, "Good grief, just bring a pasta salad then," but instead he says, "Fine."

So every year I brave the Costco holiday crowd, spend $6, and plop the potato salad down on the table at the party. A teaspoon and a half gets eaten, I bring the rest home, put in the back of the fridge (just in case there is an earthquake and we run out of food storage), and throw it out around Labor Day.

But this year I got a ridiculous far-flung notion in my head. I would make the potato salad myself.

"As God as my witness," I said, shaking my fist at the sky. "I will make the best potato salad ever! And no one will ever go hungry at the party again!"

My husband shook his head. "Pride cometh before the fall," he said.

"No." I said. "This bowl will be empty when I come home. People will be going back for seconds, and begging for the recipe, and I will become a potato salad legend among your family."

He shook his head again. "Sometimes you have to take the low road,"

But I was determined, so I googled potato salad recipes and the first one that popped up had a money back guarantee to be the best potato salad in the history of the world.

Lucky, right? And on my first try.

I followed the recipe EXACTLY. Step by step. I made it just as grandma Mary Jane made it back in the day. I even bought special potatoes and Miracle Whip and celery seed and used plain yellow mustard even though I prefer Dijon, and plain white vinegar even though I prefer rice wine.

I decided to make the salad 24 hours in advance so the flavors could spend time together, get to know each other, maybe even fall deeply in love with each other.

I boiled potatoes, and I boiled eggs. Then I peeled potatoes, and I peeled eggs. Then I chopped and marinated and rested and salted and blended all of the ingredients. And I did it all with committment and devotion, as if I were a potato salad whisperer. Please help me gain the respect I crave, I whispered. And if it's not too much to ask, please bring me potato salad fame and glory.

On the Fourth of July I awoke with a flutter, and tenderly pulled the bowl of potato salad from the fridge, gently removed the tinfoil, and trembling, raised a spoonful to my mouth.

"How is it?" asked my husband.

"Well, it's not the best potato salad in the history of the world," I said, "but it tastes . . . familiar."

I couldn't put my finger on it."If I were a judge on Chopped I might say it tastes plain white and plain yellow."

"You mean it tastes buttoned up?" he said.

That's when my epiphany struck. "It tastes like . . . COSTCO!"

In other words, for the low, low price of only $5.99, I could have had the best potato salad in the history of the world. And spared the explosion in my kitchen.

No one went back for seconds at the party, or asked for the recipe. And I proved my scientific theory that everything I can do, someone else can do better. (Especially Costco.) But there's a moral here. There are several morals here, actually. Pride cometh before the fall. Sometimes it's best to take the low road. Don't trust the first best recipe on the internet. Bring a back-up dish, preferably one with a little bite to it's bark

Far and away the best moral of this story is that recipes are great. Follow them over and over. Imitate them. Understand them. But then, when you are ready, trust yourself and add your own flavors. You can't become the potato salad legacy you were meant to become by copying Grandma Mary Jane.  

Next year I think I will splash the potatoes with cilantro and lime, and add a touch of jalapeno to the eggs.