Ahhhhh, summer. The time for pool parties, backyard cookouts, tan lines, and memories that last a lifetime. What better food to accompany your freshly grilled burgers and hot dogs than the beloved potato salad? For many people, nothing will do but mom’s special recipe that takes you back to your childhood.
However, you are probably aware mom did not invent potato salad. Moreover, her secret family recipe was unlikely the first potato salad in existence. Unless, of course, mom’s family is of German descent.
Before we get to that though, if you are not familiar with potato salad, it is a popular side dish in the United States made from boiled cubed potatoes, mayonnaise or a mayonnaise-like substitute such as yogurt or sour cream. Some recipes add mustard, herbs, hard boiled eggs and chopped onion.
Potato salad, traditionally eaten in Germany, spread throughout Europe in popularity. Recipes were likely brought to the United States when German and European settlers immigrated to the US in the early 19th century.
German potato salad or “Kartoffelsalat” varies from region to region. The Northern region serves their potato salad more similar to what we are used to in the United States.
Potato salad from the southern region of Germany is more likely to include a few extra ingredients such as bacon and beef broth. However, neither region originally used mayonnaise in their potato salad. Often it had olive oil, or another type of fat within it but no mayonnaise. The creamy tradition is unique to the United States version.
Another important difference? In Germany, potato salad is more often than not served hot (although it can be served cold as well). Meanwhile, the United States versions are traditionally prepared cold or at room temperature.
Unfortunately, because of the perishable ingredients added in the US version, it is also one of the most likely sources of food born illness at any summer backyard cookout. So, unless mom’s making it, you might want to check how much time this beloved side dish has spent in the sun at your next backyard cookout.
Here are a few popular Blue Ribbon potato salad recipes we think you’ll love.