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:1/3 cup sugar (original recipe call for 1/2 cup) 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.
I’m just laughing – my mom’s name is Wanda! Most of the time, it seems like she has both your mom and your aunt locked in battle inside her one personality.
Luther had it right for – we can divide folks into the saints over “here” and the sinners over “there”, but for sure we’re going to have to find a way to live in both camps at once if we want to be honest about our situation!
Wanda is a fine name — and it sounds like it suits your mom to a “T.”
With your comment about your mom being locked in battle with both a bit of my mom and aunt’s personality, I wondered if your Mom’s middle name was Carol by chance — Carol was my mother’s first name.
Yes, saint and sinner I am. And sometimes, I fear, I may not be able to discern which I am in the thick of the moment.
Truth is so often stranger than fiction. If some of the things that have happened to me in real life were in a novel, people would say, “Oh yeah, pull the other one; now is THAT at all likely to ever happen!”
been a few of those moments lately, I can tell you!!
I guess all of this “truth is stranger to fiction” business is why writers are so often instructed to LISTEN deeply to the world in which they live. Even my nightly dreams merely build upon what is happening in daily life, albeit in a very strange slapstick style.
i love german potato salad! anything with bacon is amazing. i’ll have to give this a try sometime soon.
Yes. Anything with bacon.
I just made this salad yesterday. I tend to serve it with grilled meat, even hamburgers. Or barbeque. But never German dishes. Yesterday it was baby back ribs.
But it’s versatile and easy — and always a crowd pleasure — though it doesn’t warm-up well.
And welcome to the blog. I’ve truly enjoyed reading your’s.