June 29, 2009
Big week coming up, right? The birth of our nation, stars, stripes, fireworks, cold beer, fired-up grills, pools full of kids, etc. We Americans celebrate in style.
My parents came to this country in the late 1960s from India. Like most immigrants, they have always been fiercely patriotic. “Only in America” was a reverential phrase, oft-repeated in the course of my growing up. Someone has done something marvelous, risen above circumstances, innovated, liberated, volunteered, changed careers in middle age, made something out of nothing.
Only in America.
Of course, it isn’t exactly true that America is the ONLY place one can do such things, but when you’ve entered this place with fresh eyes, as my parents did, the freedoms, opportunities, and equalities we celebrate every year on the Fourth of July occur like realities and not just abstractions.
I am fiercely proud to call myself first-generation; the first of my family to be born here. I’m fiercely grateful to my parents for the courage and sacrifice it took to come to this country (the first plane trip of my mother’s life took her to JFK International Airport: she was twenty-one years old and dressed in a sari).
To honor them, and this place, I’m going to try to remind myself that my freedom is real, as real & palpable as the slices of cool watermelon I plan to consume this weekend, and that many millions in the world thirst after the freedom I am able to take for granted every day.
As a matter of tradition, I’ll make this potato salad, which my Mom loves (her birthday is Thursday, as a matter of fact. Happy birthday, Mom! You are a badass & I love you!) We’ll drink imported beer, listen to Hindi music, & celebrate some dead-and-gone Patriots with crazy ideas and a lot of gumption, who built this thing we call democracy.
Only in America. And thank goodness for that.
SUMMER CLASSICS SERIES: POTATO SALAD
There are infinite variations on this, of course, whereby you could include a couple of chopped, hard-boiled eggs or crumble in some cooked bacon, but I like to keep my potato salad nice & simple. ‘Cause I’m old school like that.*
2-3 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed
½ of a red onion, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
4-5 tiny or 1-2 big dill pickles, diced
¾ cup mayonnaise (not the fake stuff! puh-lease not the fake stuff!)
½ cup Dijon mustard (not the yellow stuff! puh-lease not the yellow stuff!)
a big handful of fresh dill, chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
Place the potatoes in a large pot & cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil & cook potatoes until fork-tender, between 15-20 minutes depending on potato size. Drain & cool potatoes before chopping them into fork-friendly cubes.
This really couldn’t be easier. Place all of the ingredients (except s&p) in a bowl—mix carefully until everything’s evenly distributed. I like to use a spatula for this part so as not to upset the taters too much.
Taste-teste and add salt, pepper, maybe more dill if necessary. Be sure to refrigerate if you’re not serving right away.
*Remember those little old men at the end of The Incredibles? “No school like the old school!”