JEFF TIEDEMAN: Super summer sideNothing epitomizes potluck or picnic fare more than potato salad.
It seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new poll popping up.
I have to look no further than the Herald’s website (www.GrandForksHerald.com) for proof. The one currently featured is “How much has Minnesota’s government shutdown affected you so far.”
And with the 2012 election less than 16 months away, pundits and pollsters already are tossing around numbers about who’s the Republican Party front-runner to face President Barack Obama.
I have some interest in both, the latter because the course of this country will be on the line, and the former, which has a direct and immediate effect on me as a Minnesota taxpayer.
But a couple of polls that have most piqued my interest recently are food-related, specifically about summer side dishes. And the winner in both is potato salad.
According to a recent poll on AOLFood.com, potato salad is the No. 1 pick among cold side salads — with 48-percent of the vote — edging out pasta salad, green salad, coleslaw and three-bean salad.
And a Food Network poll — “Macaroni Salad or Potato Salad: Which All-American side do you prefer” — gives the one containing spuds a 55 percent to 25 percent edge.
There probably are several reasons why potato salad is so popular. For one thing, it can be served with a number of main courses, including hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and steak. And since it considered fairly informal fare, potato salad is the perfect side for picnics, barbecues and other casual meals and events.
Potato salad also is a popular menu choice of cooks who are preparing food for a large number of people because it is easily made in large quantities, can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until needed and requires inexpensive ingredients.
When it comes to potato salad, everyone has their favorite, and it’s usually their mom’s. That’s always been the standard by which I've judged potato salads — until my first bite of Therese’s. There’s something about my wife’s potato salad (I can’t put my finger on it) that has made it my favorite (sorry, Mom).
While people around here are used to a mayonnaise- or salad dressing-based potato salad, there are many other versions like the one that originated in southern Germany that’s prepared with vinegar and bacon bits and served warm, the French style that treats potatoes with vinaigrette and the Sicilian variety that contains green beans and red onion dressed with olive oil and vinegar.
But no matter what it contains, I have found that there is no wrong way to make potato salad.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.