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Barbecuing Is an Art Form, but Potato Salad Is A Religion

By Beth Clark • June 26, 2018

So Many Potatoes, Even More Ways to Salad Them

Each summer, the centuries-old potato salad quandary begins anew for BBQers and chefs everywhere: Mayo or mustard? Russets or Yukons? Onions or pickles? Grandma’s secret family recipe or Betty Crocker? Those questions led Zack Brown to crowdfund $55,492 to make his first bowl of starchy goodness...and write The Peace, Love & Potato Salad Cookbook! There's a whole crop of books by authors from all walks of life to inspire and instruct you on how to up your potato salad game, but first, a little history on how spuds got their start.

And the Award for Potatoes Becoming Mainstream Goes to...Spain

Sixteenth century Spain, to be precise. New trade routes led Spanish explorers to South America, where they discovered the potato. Merchants and farmers then introduced it to Europe, it became a staple throughout the region, and Germany is most likely the birthplace of what we now know and love as...potato salad.

Typical European potato salad is served warm and made with oil, vinegar, and herbs, which would have been the version introduced to colonial America by immigrants. By the 1800s, it had evolved to include mayonnaise. Early on, Russets were the go-to, and still hold their place in the potato world, but today Yukon Golds, red potatoes, and other waxy versions score high marks for their texture and ability to withstand cooking without turning mushy.

So, whether it's an accompaniment for ribs, steaks, chicken, or fish, potato salad is one of the ultimate American and European comfort foods, and rightly so. For potato salad cookbooks teeming with creativity and guidance, here are some ThriftBooks favorites:

*All photos courtesy of the Idaho Potato Commission

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