I like to try new recipes, though at best, most of my trials are one-hit wonders.
But occasionally, one runs across a recipe like this dish that has been in our family for almost forty years. It became part of our lives, and part of Mom’s permanent supper rotation, when she brought the recipe home as a souvenir from one of the many trips my parents made to Houston to visit my Uncle Melvin and Aunt Wanda.
Mom and Wanda were the female response to The Odd Couple, who like Walter Matthau and Tony Randall, enjoyed a proverbial love-hate relationship; they enjoyed each other when they were on good terms and they thrived on dissension when they weren’t. The quality of my mother and aunt’s relationship actually seemed to improve with physical distance — when separated by 500 miles, they were the best of friends — when separated by a fence, these next door neighbors often carried on a cold war — the fence might as well have been the Berlin Wall.
When a relationship like Mom’s and Wanda’s is encountered in fiction, it makes for hilarious reading. The fictional situations that ensue inspire tears to roll down my face and the sides of my chest to hurt from overdosing on laughter. But I can assure you it’s no laughing matter when these colorful and highly combustible relationships invade real life. Life grows surreal, taking on the quality of a daytime drama.
When ‘things’ between Mom and Wanda were good, life was sugary sweet, to the point of making most everyone else sick from too much artificial sweetener. When things grew ugly, tempers flared, they drew a line in the sand and both rallied support for their cause of ‘being right.’ Each would call the other the worse names they could think of — and the words whispered behind one another’s backs would come home to roost, by the time the gossip mill churned it around and around.
One thing I learned from watching Mom and Wanda’s revolving door relationship over fifty years is this: No matter how good a writer becomes, there’s no way any author can ever dream up the sort of outrageous situations that naturally transpire in real life, especially between two women that love and hate one another so well. And when you throw into the mix that both women professed themselves to be God-fearing Christians — well, the irony of it all is just so delicious, it becomes hard to resist — just like this potato salad — sort of sweet… sort of tart.
Try it and see how easy sweet and sour can come together so nicely.
German Potato Salad
Serves 4 Preparation Time – 15 minutes Cooking Time — 2 hours
Ingredients:2 strips of bacon 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 Tbsp olive oil 2 cans sliced new potatoes, drained
Dressing:1/2 cup sugar (scant) 1/3 cup white vinegar 2 cups water 2 tsp. garlic powder 2 tsp. dried parsley 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. black pepper
In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, fry bacon crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Drain oil from pan and add olive oil. (Original recipe does not call for the substitution). Over low heat, saute onion until soft and translucent. Add potatoes and cook for a few minutes, crumbling bacon on top. Mix all skillet ingredients and add dressing until just covered. There will be enough dressing for two applications. Let the potatoes cook down, uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally. Then add second round of dressing. Once liquid has cooked into potatoes and thickened, remove potato salad from heat. Cover with foil. The salad can be reheated prior to serving.