It just occured to me this weekend, after several decades of blissful ignorance, that a phrase as simple as “going to the beach” carries an enormous range of experience, expectation and rituals. I’ve been lucky enough to head to many different shores with different family members and friends over the years. And when I returned from a long weekend this week, I found yet another way to go to the beach from fellow columnist Helen Turner.
My idea of a perfect beach day is a brisk morning walk – which can be interrupted at any given time by the promise of a good shell bank – and upon returning, throwing off shoes and glasses and cooling down in the waves. Then the day stretches into hours of sitting under an umbrella on the shore, reading and people watching with a few bouts of boogie boarding. Skee-ball at an arcade is always a nice bonus.
But, over the years, I’ve vacationed with people who are content to never set foot on the beach. They sigh with bliss to hang by the pool, or on a shady screened porch, or on a balcony overlooking the water. Others are a blur of motion, running from kayaking, fishing or crabbing to para-sailing. And still others throw themselves into a frenzy of shopping, aquariums, sight-seeing and light house tours.
In short, “going to the beach” has as many meanings as the number of grains of sand in a plastic shovel.
So, you say, what does that have to do with food?
Well, think about it. When you say macaroni and cheese, potato salad, or chicken salad, you’re thinking of the way your grandmother or mother or, not to be sexist, dad made it. You’ve got the image, the taste, in your head – the best way to do it. Maybe you take a glance at all the new-fangled recipes for these familiar dishes. Perhaps you even try a few.
But, you always fall back to that one recipe that makes you say “ahh.” And when you take your first bite, it’s almost as blissful as the minute you step from your overstuffed car into the salty, musky sea air.
So, here’s how my dad’s mother, who we called Mamoo, made potato salad. It became THE potato salad for my family. Sure, it has an extra step with the cooked dressing, but the tangy bite brings out the flavor of the potatoes and crisp vegetables.
You can try it if you like. Or not. That’s the beauty of recipes and the beach. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy them.
Mamoo’s Potato Salad
1 pound red potatoes
1/3 cup vinegar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. celery seed
half an onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 4-oz. jar pimentos, drained
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Boil the potatoes until soft, about 15-20 minutes, drain, cut into bite-size pieces and transfer to serving bowl. Mix in the onion, green pepper, pimentos and parsley.
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the vinegar until it steams but isn’t boiling.
Meanwhile, place the beaten eggs in a small bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, sugar and celery seed. Whisk a tablespoon of the hot vinegar into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot vinegar and whisk until thoroughly blended. Pour the warm sauce over the potatos and stir gently to coat. Serve at room temperature.
whisk the egg mixture into the remaining vinegar and stir to thoroughly mix.