The Food Connection
I don’t know about yours, but in our family, food is an important part of our culture. I am a southern, all-American girl married to a black man whose culture is deeply-rooted in the Caribbean.
After we were married, it took some time to get used to the foods his mother prepared. I still remember the first time I leaned over her shoulder watching her stir a pungent smelling fish in the pan.
“What’s this called?” I’d said.
“Akee and Salt Fish,” she answered in her thick West Indian accent. She gave me a spoonful and I made a face. “Awe daughter, you’ll get used to it. I’ll make you some eggs.”
Twenty years later, I’ve come to appreciate West Indian food. I now love Akee and Salt Fish, Curry Goat, Rice and Peas, Roti, but to the Ox Tail, I still say, “pass the fried chicken.” I can’t get used to the idea of chewing on a gristly, beast tail.
Growing up in Suffolk, Virginia, if it was a holiday celebration, Granny’s potato salad was on our table. No one made potato salad like my Granny. It is a dish often thought to accompany barbecues, but for us, we had it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4th and any other holiday dinner when Granny and Paw-Paw came over to eat.
After Granny passed away, I missed her so much that I practiced making her potato salad just to feel like she was near. After serving it at my in-law's house one Thanksgiving, it became requested for every holiday since.
This southern potato salad has made its home amongst the West Indian flavors at our family holidays. The foods at our feasts represent the blending of our cultures, for food brings people together like nothing else.
As we celebrate our freedom this Independence Day, I hope you will find peace and connection in sharing food with your loved ones. We could all use a little more connection these days. Maybe, you’d even like to have a little of my Granny’s Potato Salad. Just in case, I’ve included the recipe below.
Granny’s Potato Salad:
Servings: Serves a crowd.
1 1/2 jars of speared Kosher dill pickles finely diced
2 plus cups of mayonnaise (makes it creamy)
1 onion finely diced
Chopped dill or green onion (optional)
Skin and chop potatoes into bite-size pieces, boil until soft. Hard boil the eggs, peel and chop into small pieces. Dice the dill pickles. Dice the onions. Once potatoes are soft, drain and immediately add the dill pickles, onions, eggs, and mayo. The potatoes will absorb the flavors better if they are hot when you add these things in. Stir until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. As decoration, sprinkle paprika over the top along with either chopped green onion or dill.