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Mayonaisse-y potato salad—that side dish that no American barbecue is complete without—has its roots in Germany, which is why I wasn’t surprised to find a delicious recipe from a wonderful woman named Anke Gelbin who immigrated to New Jersey from Berlin over thirty years ago.
As a young mother, Anke made certain that her children did not forget their roots: A sign in the kitchen read “Only German is spoken at this table," where dishes from the home country were served every night.
It was Anke’s daughter who raved to me about the family’s potato salad and piqued my interest in the dish. But if you Google “German Potato Salad,” you’ll see an overwhelming number of results. As Anke explained, each German home has its own version: There isn’t one recipe to track down. Even her grandmother’s was a bit different than her own, using fresh cucumbers and parsley.
Anke makes the same variation her mother Uda made—and I wouldn't change a thing about it. A chemist by trade, she knows how to formulate the ingredients until she’s happy with the exact ratio of flavors: a little bit of mayo, then a little more mustard, back to more mayo, a sprinkle of salt, a grind of pepper—she keeps tasting until it’s perfect.
Remember to use Hellman’s mayonnaise: Not only was Mr. Hellman German, but he was also from outside of Berlin, the same area as Anke’s family.
- 21/2 to 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled and peeled
- 1 small red onion, chopped fine
- 6 to 7 small Polish dill pickles, medium dice
- 6 to 7 tablespoons Hellman's mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons Grey Poupon mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste