Saturday, September 16, 2006

The House "Macaroni" Salad

I lost my mother less than a year ago, and I miss her so very much. She was a single mom, and I was an only child, so it was always just us against the world. We never had very much, but she gave me everything that I really needed--like love and a belief in myself. Because Mom sometimes worked as many as three jobs at a time, I learned to cook at a very early age. But it was never a chore; I always loved cooking. In fact, as early as fifth grade, I won the grand prize at my local county fair with my corn muffins, and went on to compete at the Oregon State Fair with them (where I placed third). My mother was a competent but uninspired cook. She had a small repertoire of meals that she rotated through, things that we both enjoyed, but she rarely struck out into new recipe territories. One thing that you could count on like death and taxes was that we would grill on the weekend. Mom would come home from work on Fridays and dig several kinds of meat out of the big, stand-up freezer, such as chicken, steak, and pork ribs. She would thaw them in the microwave and then give everything her standard teriyaki-style marinade of soy sauce (which she always pronounced "soya" sauce, as she hailed from Macon, Georgia originally), garlic powder, onion powder, and celery salt, and then refrigerate everything in Ziploc bags overnight. Over the weekend, she would fire up the charcoal grill and cook all the meat, always throwing a package of hot dogs in the mix for good measure, and that would provide most of our dinners into the next week. She would reheat the meat, nuke a baked potato and some frozen veggies, and that would be a typical evening meal. (My mother was OVERJOYED when the microwave came on the market, and we had what must have been the prototype very early on. It was HUGE, had a turn dial on it, and I swear that the lights dimmed when you turned it on! But that thing lasted FOREVER! They don't make 'em like that anymore.)

While mom was manning the grill, it was my job to make what we simply referred to as "macaroni" salad. But it wasn't the elbows with mayo/Miracle Whip, mustard and relish affair that most people are familiar with. This was an unusual combination of ingredients, including tuna, eggs and black olives, that my mom always credited to my dad, who was Hawaiian. Since then, I have been to Hawaii and sampled many teriyaki lunches that always come with white rice and macaroni salad on the side (back in the day, I guess they needed double carbs to pick those pineapples or herd that cattle!). The traditional version seems to involve only pasta and mayonnaise, with perhaps a grating of carrot, but that's it. So I'm not sure what to make of our house recipe, but this is how we always made it, and it is still one of my very favorite dishes. It also intrigues and eventually delights people at picnics and potlucks and such. Give it try while there is still some grilling weather left, why don't you?

Mom's Hawaiian "Macaroni" Salad

4 eggs , hard-cooked, peeled and chopped
1 lb. shell pasta (I prefer medium-sized)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can tuna, drained
1 small can chopped black olives, drained
1 large carrot, grated
2-4 scallions, thinly sliced

Place the eggs in a large pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil, and add the pasta shells, cooking until tender. Rinse the pasta until quite cool and drain. Peel and chop the eggs. In a large bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, seasonings, tuna, olives, carrot, and scallions. Add the cooled, drained pasta and the chopped eggs, and stir gently to combine. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (You will probably need to add salt the next day according to your taste.) Goes great with teriyaki meats!


Randi said...

great story. A couple of comments. 1. ppl in Ontario call it soya sauce too. It bugs the crap outta me. 2. they put tuna in macaroni salad as well. GROSS. 3. I think I read about mac salad in a saveur magazine a few issues ago.

Joy Bugaloo said...

Don't say gross! It's delicious...well, unless you don't like tuna, I suppose. But who would have thought that Hawaiian and Canadian macaroni salads would be so similar? You learn something new every day! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I remember that microwave...we cooked a lemon cake with chocolate chips in it!
When I told my kids about that they couldn't believe people tried to make cake in a nuker.
Then again, it may have been the choco chips in the cake.....
love you,

Joy Bugaloo said...

Hey, Adie! Readers, you should know that Adrienne was my very best friend from childhood in Oregon, and I'm so happy that we have managed to stay in touch off and on over the years. However, her memory is better than mine, as I sure don't remember trying to bake such a vile cake in our microwave! However, I do remember many unevenly baked treats that we made in your Easy-Bake Oven, Adie! ;-) Love back atcha--Gina

Anonymous said...

I loved your article. I too lived for a time in Hawaii and ate lots of Teriyaki and macaroni slad. I could never make it to taste as good as theres is. I recently went back and found that all the local places are gone. I found a place called Connie's, thats the closest to what i had 20 years ago. Great good.