By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
If you’re looking for writing inspiration, You Tube videos are a treasure trove. Last night, I was doing some research by watching a video, but with potato salad on my mind. So I Googled, “You Tube,” for videos on how to make potato salad, curious as to how other people prepared one of my comfort foods. Anything to veer off topic and procrastinate from writing, right?
At first I was intrigued by this one woman’s technique of cutting up boiled eggs which was similar to mine. Mesmerized by her rhythmic hands, I was then hypnotized by how she deftly wielded her sharp blade through all of that soft white eggy part before getting down into the slicing and dicing of yellow yolk—the entire time admonishing her viewers not to skimp on the eggs. “Five potatoes, five eggs. Do not skimp on the eggs in your potato salad,” she said in a buttery voice. She had me convinced and I wondered how many billion pounds of potato salad she’d made in her life for funerals, family, and friends.
In another demonstration, the cook used an onion chopper for chopping up her onions. Pfffftttt! So much easier to use a sharp Henckels prep knife and with a quick chop, chop, chop, you don’t have to clean those plastic contraptions into next week because your dishwasher failed to blast between the small blades. Meh, onto another.
In the next video, I was shocked at what people tossed into their potato salad. Miracle Whip? What! Yuck! Everybody knows you’re supposed to use Real Mayo! Why is she putting milk in there—Holy Cow! No one likes their potato salad that creamy! You could drink that potato salad and I’ll bet she overcooked her potatoes. Ugh, ugh, ugh! And throw some more mustard in there, Miss Stingy! Wait a minute, not so free handed with that vinegar Miss Sour Sally!
And this next video took the potato. I felt my face screwing up and heard myself grinding out, Nooooooooo! Who puts sugar in potato salad? Are you crazy? You just dumped in ¾ cup of sugar on top of five cut up Irish potatoes and diced eggs and all of that Mayo, dill relish, and mustard! Gross! And if you’re not a diabetic, you ought to be! And now I can’t erase from my ever loving mind this video of you dumping sugar on your potatoes! I can feel that grit clinging to my molars Miss Sugary Sarah! How can I stop this video from replaying in my head! I did not see that. I did not see that. I did not see that.
Suddenly, I burst out laughing at myself, though I was shocked—yes shocked—that I was so traumatized by the sugar episode. More so than that time I watched a reality show of people eating worms, I kid you not. Oh my goodness. What did this say about me? Probably that I was a food snob, just like my mother. When had I turned into her when it came to cooking? Was I going to start condemning people for not putting sage in their dressing? Yep.
And it hit me, I’d just “experienced” my own cooking scene by watching those videos. (If only I had a video of me watching that video—the horror I felt on my face as my jaw dropped was surreal and hilarious as I thought about checking my blood pressure.)
The scene might not work for my present nonfiction book project about a soldier who had lost his life in Afghanistan, but it would work for a novel or a memoir down the road. One thing for sure, that scene was definitely going in a book.
So, Happy Trails while surfing through You Tube cooking videos and beware too much “sweetness.” Now, I’m off to the frig for some potato salad!