I still contend that my grandmother was one of the best cooks that the world as ever seen, especially when it came to picnic food and desserts. Until my own venture into making potato salad yesterday and today (it was a two day event), I didn’t realize how hard she worked. And, really, all I did was peel the potatoes and taste the salad because Sarah is much more of a cook than me (yes, it has dawned on me that I should be able to cook to be a suitable candidate for marriage. However, I do know how to clean, decorate, take care of pets, and plant flowers…oh, and I’m very good with power tools. That should count for something, right?)
We called my mom in order to get my grandma’s potato salad recipe and like all my grandmother’s recipes, this one wasn’t terribly exact. “Add some vinegar” isn’t that helpful, you know? Finally, the potato salad was ready for a taste test…and it tasted nothing like Grammy’s. I called my mom fighting back fears because it just had to be like my grandmother’s because that’s what I remember being the best part about the Fourth of July. We added more vinegar and then salad dressing and onions and paprika and celery salt in various quantities, but it was futile. While our friend Julie loved the potato salad, I thought it tasted terrible.
July 31 will mark the third anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and in these three years I’ve come to realize it’s the little things that truly matter most–her potato salad on the Fourth of July, the little birds she folded out of paper, and the answers to the questions I never asked. I can’t make her potato salad; I don’t know how to fold those little birds; and I can’t ask those questions.
I know it’s just potato salad and such a thing shouldn’t make a person cry, but it does. Because it’s not potato salad; it’s something I can never ask my grandmother to show me how to make. I can’t make it for my family one day (if I ever learn how to cook) and say, “This is how my grandmother made it.” Today I missed my grandmother terribly, not just because of her potato salad, but because of what not having her potato salad means. They say that a loved one’s death gets easier with time; I think it just gets “normal”.
If anyone out there has a good recipe for potato salad that contains vinegar, salad dressing (the mayo alternative), and sour cream, please e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it here for everyone to enjoy. Thanks!