by Ed Halmagyi


There is, I understand, an historic logic to the formulation of bridesmaids’ duties. I say this entirely as a dilettante because (no surprise!) I have not yet been asked to serve in that capacity.

To the interested outsider there seems to be four key tasks performed by the bridesmaid. Firstly there’s the costuming – that all important choice of dresses, make-up and shoes. Next, the party planning and logistics – are the invitations sent, is the hen’s night planned, and have the flowers been ordered. Thirdly, there’s crisis management – controlling the bride’s nerves, and making sure Aunt Beryl hasn’t been into the cooking sherry.

But the most critical task afforded to the bridesmaid is to never outshine the bride. If you’ve always wondered why bridesmaids are kitted out in formless taffeta with bulbous trimmings, well there’s the answer. It’s the ancient control mechanism that makes sure the bride is the most beautiful woman at the wedding.

So what happens when the homely bride (unwittingly) asks her super-hottie best friend to act as maid of honour? Well, I call that the potato salad moment.

This summer you’ll see what I mean, it’s almost certain.

Barbecues should be all about the meat and fish cooking on the grill. But too often the proximity of the beer-laden ice box intervenes. Any tong-toting T-bone-turner who is on to their third (or later) drink would probably get cited for BUI – ‘barbecuing under the influence’. Common symptoms are charred snags, leathery rump steaks, and forgetting to put the salmon on for the girls.

At that point, the humble side salads become the most beautiful thing on the table, and what salad is more ubiquitously Australian than the potato salad?

For a perfect potato salad choose waxy potatoes like Nicola, Spunta, Kipfler or Pontiac and steam them gently until tender. Allowing the potatoes to cool thoroughly before dressing them will give you a creamier consistency. As for that all-important dressing, I still reckon a mayonnaise-based version is best, and combine the salad at least an hour before you serve to allow the flavours to mingle.

The cook may stay sober, and serve up a glorious lamb backstrap. Or the afternoon sun may prove too strong and, well, dehydration is a terrible thing.

Either way, there’s a thing of beauty to be had on the side. It won’t be long before your potato salad is making its own way down the culinary aisle.
Marinated lamb backstrap with spicy potato salad

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