WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 1: Janice Canadays Potato Salad. (Photo by Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
What Makes German Potato Salad Different From American?
Potato salad is a time-honored staple that can be found on the tables of every cookout, BBQ, and picnic blanket from coast to coast. While every country has its own unique potato salad, Germany's version of potato salad is supposedly responsible for the invention of potato salad in the United States.
Cookbook author Karen Lodder says that, just like in the U.S., regional and familial differences in potato salad recipes vary throughout Germany, with the major ones being Schwäbisch, Bavarian, and Northern. Lodder breaks it down simply by saying, "Northern Germans tend to use mayonnaise, while Southern Germans stand by vinegar. "
Northern German potato salad is served cold and features mayonnaise, often mixed with sour cream or cream, and bits of hard-boiled egg and sweet or sour pickles. Southern German potato salads are usually served warm and involve vinegar, broth, red onions, mustard or other spices, bacon and bacon grease, a touch of sugar, and even pickles.
Thanks in part to the immigration of north Germans to the US, such as mayo king Richard Hellmann, northern German potato salad is extremely similar to contemporary American varieties. While it is unclear who first put mayo to potato salads, Hellmann's northern Germanic origin and his company's fame make a strong case for spreading this northern German type of cold potato salad in America.