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History of German Potato Salad

Let's start with how the potato got to Germany.....

Potatoes were not always popular in Germany ...or Europe, after explorers brought them back from South America.

In fact, if Germans a little over 200 years ago were somehow transported into our supermarket today and saw all the potatoes they may think we were in a depression.
Potatoes were ONLY for the poor, prisoners or livestock.

So How did the Potato get from South America to Germany?

Mistaking a Potato for a Truffle?

Potatoes (Kartoffel) got to Germany by a long route first from the Spanish from South America to Spain, and then they slowly spread throughout Europe. The Spanish first thought they were truffles! Maybe because they were dug from the earth like truffles are. The Italians were the first to try cultivating the potato,but with liitle luck. The word Kartoffel comes from the Italian word Tartufolo (truffles).

Since the leaves were poisonous the potato got a bad reputation as something to avoid.
Potatoes also got the reputation for causing lustful thoughts, so many avoided these "fruits of the devil" even if they were hungry!

The first potatoes were seen as only fit for pigs!

The first cultivated potatoes were not very good either. They were very small and sometimes bitter. It took some cross breading to get the potato as we know it today. In it's modern fashion it is only about 200 years old.The first potatoes were planted in Germany in the mid 1500's but It became something only the peasants grew on their land and ate as cheap sustenance for many years.

The Potato Order

" Frederick the Great"one of the great kings in German history, saw the potential of potatoes as Germany was experiencing many cool wet summers during the 1700's which caused the wheat crops to fail. The potatoes were needed not only for the people but to fuel his army. His voluntary efforts failed to interest people in planting potatoes, so he gave an order in 1754 for all his rural administrators to recommend seriously to all farmers to grow potatoes. Through his efforts the potato was finally accepted and in the mid 1700's potatoes were even seen in the market places in Germany. Ironically after Frederick died there and thre was no one to succeed his throne, armies from Austria and Prussia, came to gain his land. The armies battled and survived lnly because of the potatoes they pillaged from the local farms.

Vincent Van Gogh when living in Holland (right next to Germany) felt the peasant farmers were a very honest hard working breed, and so he painted a picture that is now famous called the potato eaters. He said that the same hand that ate the potato also dug in the soil to raise and harvest it so he was moved by the integrity of these people.

The Potato Eaters, by Vincent Van Gogh.

For more interesting pictures go visit the The German Potato Museum

Why is it called "Hot German Potato Salad"?

In Germany Potato salad is not called "German Potato Salad". Just as in Philadelphia a cheese steak isn't called a Philadelphia cheese steak. early settlers in America noticed that the German Immigrants made this salad that was warm, and had bacon and onions and a nice sweet and tart dressing so they started calling it Hot German potato salad.

German Potato Salad is very popular and unique most probably coming from using left over roasted or boiled potatoes. The addition of ham or speck (German bacon) makes it taste different from other cultures. Such as Greece uses olive oil and lemon in their hot potato salad.

All the following German Potato salad recipes that were contributed from our readers I found are just a bit different with a few twists that make them unique. As you try different ones possibly you will come up with your own combinations that become your family's favorite.


More German Potato Salad Recipes

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Last updated February 11, 2011