Mom’s potato salad: How food reminds me of people I miss

I made this easy salad the other day not because I wanted to cook a vegetarian dish, nor because I was too lazy to make anything complicated – but because I was missing my mom. A lot. I haven’t been feeling well lately (I’m going to see a doctor tomorrow) and I really need my mom: I miss her touch, her comforting warmth, her unique way of caressing me and of helping me to feel better. She is in Romania at the moment and she’ll fly back to Chicago in early July. We’ve got everything planned for a wonderful summer vacation after she gets here. Less than two months to go, and time can’t seem to go fast enough.

So, while waiting for mom, I decided to cook something to remind me of her, a dish I know she always likes to make in a pinch: her easy peasy potato salad.

This is a salad mom made a lot when I was growing up because most of the ingredients were easy to find. Back then, potatoes were a staple of our diet and mom used them a lot in her cooking: from potato “stew” to mashed potatoes, from potato salad to potato pancakes, potatoes were on the menu almost daily. With their abundance of carbs and filling texture, potatoes were sold in humongous quantities at the local market and they were also very cheap – all arguments in favor of eating them as often as possible. By comparison, getting kalamata olives was a tricky business, and more often than not my mom would leave them out of the dish. Luckily, those days are long gone, and now I can find these meaty, very flavorful olives at a reasonable price. 

Ingredients

2 medium potatoes

1 medium red onion

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup kalamata olives

1 handful fresh parsley

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Ingredients for the vinaigrette

9 tsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tsp white wine vinegar

Wash the potatoes and put them in a pan with water to cover them. Bring the water to boil over a medium heat. Let the potatoes boil until they are done – check them with a fork: if the fork goes through the potatoes and the potatoes are soft, then they are done. My potatoes were medium to large, so the boiling process took around half an hour.

While the potatoes are boiling, you can put the eggs in a separate pan full of water and boil them too. Bring the water to boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes, with the eggs in it. The eggs are going to be hard-boiled.

Take the potatoes and the eggs out of the pans. Let them cool down for about 10 minutes, then peel them.

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Cut the potatoes into cubes, the eggs into slices, and the red onion into rings. Put all these ingredients in a bowl. Add the drained kalamata olives and salt and pepper. Make the vinaigrette and add it to the bowl. Mix until the ingredients are well combined. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if necessary.

Just before serving chop some fresh parsley and add it on top of the salad for a hint of extra freshness.

This simple and honest dish is a nostalgic reminder of my mom, whom I have been missing a lot lately. I cannot wait for her to come back and for us to have a lot of fun again – cooking together, sharing stories, feeling blessed and content. With less than two months to go, I must stay focused and think positive 🙂


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