Sunday, April 17, 2011

BBQ/Picnic Sides Tip #1: Honor the Classics

Over the next week, what you are going to notice is that all of my tips are about taking the components of coleslaw, macaroni salad, and potato salad, and just “upping the ante” or providing a slight modification.  This is because what I have learned is that ultimately every picnic side is someone's favorite.  They came to your bbq looking forward to it and are going to be a little sad when it is there in an unrecognizable form

The time I really learned my lesson in terms of trying too hard at revamping a classic was an experiment with replacing potato salad with sweet potato salad.  I made what I thought was a great sweet potato salad, a savory/sweet play on the classic vinegar based potato salad.  It pretty much tanked.  Although a thoughtful combination of sweet potatoes, apples, celery, peas, and an apple cider/apple juice/balsamic dressing, I didn’t get nearly the compliments that I normally do.  Although sweet potatoes are trendy in foodie circles, that doesn’t mean that someone hoping for potato salad is going to be particularly thrilled with its oranger, healthier, cousin.  

However, honoring the classics doesn’t mean that you have to follow the rules completely--the classics aren’t perfect.  Also, as someone once said, “The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a new star.”  If you can present a potato salad that no one has ever tasted the like of, you will have one memorable foodie accomplishment. 

So, when making your mark on coleslaw, potato, and macaroni salad, think “reinvent,” “update,” and “tweak,” but avoid “metamorphosis,” “overhaul,” and “transformation.”  If you ever start getting too crazy just imagine yourself having to single-handedly eat sweet potato salad made for a crowd.     
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