Ode to Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of my four favorite vegetables, right up there with tuna salad, deviled eggs, and slices of Velveeta. You need a mustardy tang and some starch to balance the overpowering sweetness of barbecue sauce. That’s where the masters in the art of salade de pommes de terre come in. They know how to blend their ingredients in a way that drives even the strongest men to gluttony.

In my opinion the best potato salad that is commercially available is served at the Railhead, in Fort Worth. But the best potato salad I have ever tasted is Mama Jap’s, not for sale but created by Gary Cartwright, a natural-born cook, who writes for this magazine. Here is what he does: Washes the potatoes and boils with skins on. Mashes with lots of butter, salt, and pepper. Eats half the batch on the spot, then to the remainder adds mayonnaise, lots of yellow mustard (Cartwright claims you can’t get too much), chopped onions, chopped sour pickles, sweet pickle relish, chopped onions, pimientos, and more chopped onions. The great chefs of Europe would envy this dish. I have suggested to Cartwright that we mass-produce it, but he wisely pointed out that sooner or later we would poison somebody.

— As a child at Angelo’s Bar-B-Que, in Fort Worth, novelist Bud Shrake learned that brisket is best when discovered under a heaping mound of potato salad.

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