Most of the time at Paris markets, the root vegetables are in the back, tucked away in bins behind the frenetic energy of those serving you the produce. It’s where you’ll find the carrots, beets, turnips, rutabaga and potatoes, along with onions and garlic.
I was in search of potatoes for an upcoming barbeque. Yes, a barbeque in Paris! We are lucky enough to be friends with another American-wife and German-husband couple who have a beautiful back patio complete with a grill that they brought with them from the states. And even better, he loves to grill and they both love to entertain.
I’d done the whole “bring a kale salad because you do the kale thing,” before and wanted to make something different. That’s when I immediately started craving potato salad, but not any potato salad, my Grandad’s.
Growing up, I hated mayo. I still don’t particularly like it and prefer to make my own (I recommend this Jamie Oliver recipe). Given my hatred to the creamy mixture of olive, egg and vinegar, I never really liked cold, summer type salads. I think it might have had something to do with my only exposure to dairy as a child being Parmesan and Asiago cheese.
As I got older and my plates at family summertime picnics evolved from more than just the tofu hot dog my mom would bring to the grill, I eventually tried my Grandad’s famous potato salad. Everyone talked about it. Everyone couldn’t wait for the Memorial, 4th of July and Labor Day parties knowing it would be the dish he chose to bring.
And how I will never forget that first bite. The potatoes cooked perfectly. Not too soft, not too hard. The taste of celery salt and diced red onion. Creamy egg yolk. Whatever my Grandad did, I knew I had to figure it out. Of course old people being old people don’t like to share their secrets and after many tries to discover what he actually did, he always said no and that “You have to be here with me to do it.” I gave up.
Until the barbeque. I called, catching him in between some physical therapy session or grocery store trip, and told him that now since he is 89 years-old, he has to pass down the recipe. There was no negotiating. He signed on the other end of the phone, “But you have to be here with me to do it.” I wasn’t going to take that answer again and responded that since we live in France, being right next to him was going to prove difficult until Christmas when no one would want potato salad. I heard his chuckle on the other side of the phone and knew he was going to relent.
And the result was a success. There was not a morsel of potato salad left after the barbeque. So with the long Labor Day weekend in America, I decided to make another batch of potato salad and feel festive on this side of the pond, toast my Grandad and make a date over Christmas so I can “be there with him,” for my official potato salad lesson.
Grandad Potato Salad
5-6 medium sized potatoes (if organic, keep the skins, if not, please remove)*
1 cup diced celery (chop as fine as possible)
1/2 cup diced red onion
2-3 hard boiled eggs (save one for the end)
1 Tbsp mayo (you can add more if you want)
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 teaspoon celery salt
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. 24 HOURS BEFORE PREP: Boil the potatoes so you can put a knife through them but make sure they are not too soft. Refrigerate overnight.
2. BEFORE SERVING: Slice the potatoes into squares as if making homefries. Place in a bowl.
3. Add the celery.
4. Add the red onion.
5. Mix it with a fork but do not crush the potato. Use the fork to lift up the ingredients from underneath.
6. Chop 2 hard boiled eggs into small pieces and place in a separate small bowl.
7. Add the mayo to the eggs and mix with a fork.
8. Add the egg & mayo mixture to the potatoes and use the fork again to mix everything together. Again from underneath the ingredients.
9. Add parsley, celery salt, salt and pepper. Mix.
10. Place the sliced 3rd hardboil egg and a sprinkle of parsley on top.
*When at all possible buy organic potatoes. If you can’t never eat the skin. Read more here.