Yesterday’s Office Snack of the Day, potato salad, sparked a discussion in the office on the merits of French potato salad, prepared with a vinaigrette, versus American potato salad, prepared with mayo and mustard. We concluded our versions of American potato salad were inferior to our mothers’ versions, but that the French versions (pommes de terre a l’huile) we made were delicious. M. adds bacon to her version. I do not.
All the potato salad talk reminded me of a passage in A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s memoir of writing in Paris in the 1920’s. In this passage, he’s just gotten a check for a story and decides to go to a cafe, since he hasn’t eaten lunch:
“It was a quick walk to Lipp’s and every place I passed that my stomach noticed as quickly as my eyes made the walk an added pleasure. There were few people in the brasserie and when I sat down on a bench against the wall with the mirror in the back and a table in front and the waiter asked if I wanted beer I asked for a distingue, the big glass mug that held a liter, and potato salad.
The beer was very cold and wonderful to drink. The pommes a l’huile were firm and marinated and the olive oil delicious. I ground black pepper over the potatoes and moistened the bread with the olive oil. After the first heavy draft of beer I drank and ate very slowly.”
Good old Hemingway. Whenever I read him, I want to have a cocktail.