From Nonna's Kitchen: Omi Anke's German Potato Salad
When Anke Jacobs Gelbin left the hustle and bustle of downtown Berlin to come to the US, she thought it would be a quick, one-year stay. However, American life in New Jersey agreed with her family and one year turned into 26 and counting.
While in Germany, Anke and her husband insisted on teaching their two children English at home. Anke’s husband has American roots so they felt it was important that their children have a firm grasp of English. So, the transition to America was seamless. Anke told me that when they first arrived, her small son met some Americans and came back to their apartment to exclaim, “Mom, they all speak English here!” and ran back out to play with his new friends.
So, now in America, Anke realized she needed to reinforce German at home. She even made a little sign that read, “We only speak German at this table.” She also made sure her culture was prominent in their new surroundings. Every night, she would cook the food of her homeland so that along with German speaking, there was lots of German eating. Goulash is still a family favorite and she makes it whenever she visits her son and daughter.
I was lucky that Anke decided to move to Connecticut many years ago and was willing to pack up her sharp German knives, a pressure cooker, bags full of ingredients and drive to my house on a rainy Saturday morning. I was taken by her delicious food, incredibly sharp wit and generous heart. She quickly got to work as we simultaneously made goulash and German potato salad.
I was intrigued by this salad because if you google German Potato Salad, there are about 500 versions. As Anke explained, each German home has its own version. Even her grandmother’s was a bit different. Her grandmother used fresh cucumbers and parsley. This version belongs to Anke’s mother Uda and it’s delicious. Remember to use Hellman’s mayonnaise because not only was Mr. Hellman German, but he is from outside of Berlin, the same area as Anke’s family. Awesome, right?!?
I also love how Anke approaches her salad. As a respected chemist, she knows how to mix until its right. A little bit of mayo, then a little more mustard, back to more mayo, a sprinkle of salt, grind of pepper, she kept tasting until it was perfect. She brings science into the kitchen so you know the formula will work!
So now, whenever I make this salad or spread a little mayo on my sandwich (I only use Hellman’s) I will think of Anke, her amazing spirit, intelligence and my special day with her in the Heirloom Kitchen.
Omi Anke’s German Potato Salad
2 ½ to 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (boiled, then peeled)
1 small red onion, minced fine
6 to 7 small POLISH dill pickles, diced small
6 to 7 tablespoons Hellman’s mayonnaise
4 teaspoons Grey Poupon
Salt and pepper to taste
Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature and then cut into small cubes. In a large bowl, add potatoes, red onion, and pickles. Carefully fold in mayo and mustard. Potatoes should not be overly dressed but you do want to taste the mayo and mustard. Add salt and pepper gradually to your liking. Remember, mayo and mustard both have salt so use sparingly.
Serve cold or at room temperature. Anke suggests to make it the day before; perfect for entertaining. It is a wonderful side dish for some German sausages.