Potato Salad Expressionism

work of art

Potato salad to Germans is a blank canvas to project their identity on. There are regional varieties, but every household has their own favourite recipe, and home-made potato salad is as a rule more delicious than the stuff you'll find at restaurants here.

The potatoes are almost always cut into slices - not the parboiled chunks that seem to characterise potato salad in english-speaking countries.
Some regions of Germany favour the use of mayonnaise. Similar to Japanese potato salad, or the Spanish 'ensaladilla rusa', it's more of a mélange, so it's often hard to tell where the potato ends and the mayo begins. I prefer the vinegar-based recipes, which really show off the savory waxy yellow German potato.

Though naming this stuff 'salad' is a bit misleading ('cold starch dish' might be more honest), potato salad can be a refreshing counterpart to meat or cheese dishes. Our workmate Wulf does an excellent vinegary potato salad with cucumber slices, to accompany his Käsespätzle, baked cheese noodles. The salad and the noodles are both specialties of the Swabia region.

But my favourite potato salad might just be our friend Andreas' spin on a potato salad recipe from Baden-Württemberg (pictured). He made it for a party at an art curator's office on New Year's eve in Berlin, and it was a great way to start the year, after viewing chaotic fireworks from a rooftop above a McDonalds on Alexanderplatz.

Little fat-free bacon specks add a toasty flavour to the mellow acidity of the vinegar-dressed potatoes, dill adds its herbal punch, and Andreas' addition of gherkin adds a little extra crunch & acidity. It really is a work of art.

like it says

(Adapt this recipe according to taste...e.g. vary the herbs, the vinegar, leave out the bacon or the gherkin, etc).

1 kg waxy potatoes
6 tbsp wine vinegar
1/8 litre of hot beef broth (from a stock cube)
1 red onion
125g finely chopped bacon without the rind/fat
Salt & Pepper
Pinch sugar
1/2 bunch of parsley dill & chives (Andreas just used dill)
A few gherkins.

Scrub potatoes and add to covered pot of boiling water. cook 30 min. Drain, rinse under cold water and peel off the skins. Cut into slices while still warm, add to a bowl and put the bowl in a warm water bath. Mix with the vinegar and stock/broth.
Finely dice the onion and add to the bowl.
Finely dice the bacon, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the bacon until golden. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Pour this over the potatoes and mix carefully.
Let the salad bowl sit in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. (Andreas skipped this step)

Wash your herbs, dry them and finely chop along with the pickled gherkins. Add to the salad and serve.

Serve with smoke machine, flashing lights, gin, Britney Spears 'Toxic' and Prince 'U got the look' (optional).



    yum! I have a weakness to potato salad, but never figured out the best recipe.

    I like both Japanese mayo style with thinly sliced cucumbers, and also like German vinegary one.

    But especially the vinegary style, I tend to end up with a semi disaster of sour watery mash. Is it the wrong type of potato I am using? I tend to grab Yukon Gold, and I kind of imagine Russets are not suited to potato salad... any advice?


    japanese mayo style is yummy, the mayo is better than the one they use in Germany maybe?

    Can def see the risk of a sour watery mash..

    Yukon Gold should work since they are more firm/waxy, russets would be too mealy...maybe the cooking time needs to be a bit shorter?

    ..will have a go making it again this week and see if I have any useful observations!


    Nice recipe, i will definetly try it, thanks for sharing.


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