Like most people, I learned a lot about food, or rather, other people’s food after I left home. I became fast friends with the first real-life vegetarian I’d ever met, and hung out with people who talked about artichokes and could pronounce the term “quesadilla” perfectly. I remember one food discussion, in particular, where I enthusiastically shared my provincial tastes.
“I love ham,” I told them. “At my wedding, I want lots and lots of platters piled high with chunks of ham. Can you imagine anything better?”
The silence that followed, communicated they could, indeed, imagine something better. Salmon, maybe, or perhaps an herbed, skinless chicken breast, but definitely not pork.
And at that point, I realized food is cultural. The meals you grow up with carry all kinds of meaning that isn’t always apparent to others. When I think of summer, one dish immediately comes to mind, and until recently, I thought it was a universal response. My mom gently broke the truth to me when she told me “not everybody eats boiled potatoes with dill, onions and butter.” I can scarcely believe this to be true, and I’m hoping someone will tell me otherwise if it isn’t. But, If some of you have never slathered new potatoes with fried dill and onions, then this recipe is for you. I think it should be called summer.
potatoes (boil them with lots of salt–pour more in than you think you should)
butter (again, more than a reasonable amount)
lots of chopped onions (one onion per person)
lots of chopped, fresh dill (the green feathery part, not the seed head)
Fry onions in butter until soft and golden, then add dill and let it warm. Soften potatoes with a fork and dress with dill mixture. Eat, and keep commenting to your dinner companions how good it tastes.
By the way, this goes great with ham or fatty chicken skin!