Potato salad is a German creation from sometime in the 17th century, shortly after potatoes were introduced to mass agriculture. The first recognizable recipes for potato salad emerge only in the 19th century, with the codification of national cuisines. As Germany was not a unified nation-state until 1871, potato salad retains a highly regional character. You can divide Germany into roughly four parts depending on which ingredients are used. Southern Germany and the Rhineland use vinaigrette sauces, whereas North Germany uses mayonnaise-based ones. Western Germany favors simple salads, limited to potatoes and a few optional ingredients such as pickles or onion. In contrast, Eastern Germany prefers salads rich with other elements such as eggs, carrots, radishes, and other vegetables.
The recipe spread across Europe and the New World over the course of the 18th century. This particular recipe comes from Alsace, which at the time was predominantly German-speaking.
Alsatian Potato Salad
- 1.2 kg Potatoes of the kind which remain firm after boiling
- 2 Large Onions
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 400 ml Olive Oil (with some extra for frying)
- 300 g Smoked Bacon Traditionally the bacon would be dried and cured rather than the fresh kind typically eaten in the US.
- 1 Bunch of Parsley
- 40 g Dijon Mustard
- 200 ml White Condiment Vinegar The typical condiment vinegar is balsamic, but that is too strong to work here. Traditionally, a local brand, Melfor, is used, which is made with honey and local herbs. Any mild and sweet vinegar will work here.
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to Taste
- Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until pierced easily with a fork. Drain the potatoes and immediately douse them with cold water.
- Peel the potatoes and first slice them into thin slices, then into cubes.
- Finely dice the onion and garlic and fry briefly with the bacon until the onion has turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Then set aside.
- Finely dice the parsley
- Mix the mustard, vinegar and oil to form an emulsion.
- Before the potatoes have finished cooling, add the onion mixture, the vinegar emulsion and the parsely to the bowl. Mix everything together well. You can serve it warm or cold, to your preference.