Tomorrow, my husband will attend a pot-luck lunch at work. Being a man of minimal cooking ability he will unfailingly offer up my services to make a dish when asked for his contribution. His go-to dish used to be beet salad. Yes, you read that right.
The majority of my family is from the great province of Newfoundland. Home of a vast array of edible ocean creatures, vision impairing moonshine, the yummy bake apple and beet salad. Beet salad is a simple concoction: mashed potatoes, mayo, sugar and pickled beets.
Early in our relationship I presented this dish (among others; never mention the flying Honey N' Garlic chicken wing, I'm afraid the trauma is still too fresh) as evidence of my superior culinary skills to my (not quite) husband. I was, as I am sure you can understand, apprehensive. I worried he, being of Finnish and Australian heritage, would look upon my humble offering with distaste. It is an unusual dish. My worries were unfounded. He did not turn up his nose. In fact, he embraced my quirky pink potato salad with delight. It quickly advanced to the top of his favourites list. So much so, that he began to volunteer my salad for every potluck, every backyard party, for every event where it might be acceptable to bring food.
I glowed with pride, in the beginning. I soon tired of explaining the significance of the salad, assuring the non-believers that it is a traditional Newfie salad, encouraging the more courageous. Eventually, I began suggesting other dishes. I understood the usual reaction, the salad is PINK, for the love of Pete! Had I never encountered it before, I would question it as well. As it is, I've been eating since I was this big. But he never wavered. Until this week.
I do enjoy a good beet salad. The potato salad I prefer to present to polite company however, is much less controversial. Not any less traditional, though. Auntie taught my Mother how to make potato salad and Mom taught me. I've tweaked it a little over time, so it has my stamp, but it is essentially Auntie's salad. This salad I have never had to explain, there was never a need to encourage anyone to try it. It does have a little surprise, though. It's a regular ol' potato salad with egg and mayo, whatever spices you might like to add for a little more flavour, a little onion perhaps. Auntie put apples in hers, and so did Mom, and so do I. Simple enough, but nummy just the same. A crowd pleaser as well, my potato salad was always invited back.
It has probably been about 14 years since I introduced my husband to beet salad. I brought it to every event he asked me to for approximately 10 of those years. This week he asked me to make potato salad. Not My potato salad mind you. I don't think he likes apple-y potato salad half as much as he likes the beets and so, it makes no sense to him that I should prefer to make the apple one. I do, though and I did.
I find I may just miss making the beet salad for the unsuspecting party-goers. Fickle, aren't I?