We’ve been watching The Mind of a Chef on Netflix and have been following a couple of fun folks. Having been in the business for so many years, it’s easy to relate to a lot of the madness – and to really be happy both of us are retired and get to just watch and no have to deal. It is a really intense business – not for the weak of heart.

One theme that keeps popping up is tradition and authentic – whether It is in how something is made, when it’s served, or the ingredients used. For the most part, the chefs involved respect tradition but also understand that food naturally evolves. Immigrants coming to America brought a style of cooking, but they used the ingredients available to them in the new world. A classic hollandaise sauce is made a very specific way, but the butter or the eggs used will change the result. And trying to replicate classic dishes night after night gets old.

I see the dilemma when making things my Mom used to make. I make her potato salad – or, at least, a reasonable facsimile of it. Same with her stew and a few other things. They’re pretty much done the way she made them – but they’ve evolved a bit, just like hers did – she never made the exact same thing the exact same way, either.

So, tonight, I decided to channel Mom and play with her classic potato salad. Amounts are based on how much you’re making.

Mom’s Potato Salad

  • potatoes (russets, yukon gold, red bliss)
  • pickles
  • hard-cooked eggs
  • celery
  • shredded carrots
  • mayonnaise
  • catsup
  • mustard
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Mix and chill.

She generally used russets – peeled – because that’s what we always had in the house. I also think she used some Lawry’s seasoned salt in hers, but it’s not something I generally have….

We had the aioli left over from yesterday, so my first thought was using it in place of the mayonnaise. I had a bottle of chili sauce in the ‘fridge, so that went in in place of the ketchup. It had all of the other basic ingredients. The end result was a great salad – not quite mom’s, but close enough that someone who had eaten hers would recognize it – and then lament that she really did make the best potato salad and was no longer here to make it.

That’s a fitting tribute – and it’s honoring tradition.

Potato salad

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