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Today's the Day

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Sabine Schneider
Sabine Schneider

Where I come from New Year's Eve is called Silvester. The man died on December 31 and wasn't a forest dweller but a pope. It seems only logical to name the last day of the year, when chaste people are few and far between, booze cascades from every fountain and fun is to be had at every corner, after a man of god. Historically speaking, the naming happened quite recently - in the 16th century. However, celebrating the last day of any period has been common throughout the world since time began, often with noise, rituals and strange foods.

Here's a nice version of what happens on New Year's Eve in Germany.

Foods traditionally eaten on Silvester include jam-filled doughnuts (Silvesterkrapfen), Ballbäuschen (also a type of doughnut), potato salad and - more recently, cheese fondue. Sweltering summer nights are, of course, not the ideal time to share a cheese fondue. I'm feeling heat waves comming from the little stove just thinking about it. And because I don't like doughnuts they're out, too.

So it's potato salad. As a matter of fact, my mother's is the best. I would say that because I don't really care for the mayonnaisy type. My mum's is light and fresh and full of zing.

She boils potatoes (skin on) until they're almost done. She lets them sit on the bench while she puts together a sauce made from white wine vinegar, sunflower oil, salt, pepper, finely chopped red onion and dill and a few sweet-and-sour gherkins. When the taters are okay to touch she peels them and cuts them into chunks. Finally she dices a very, very good sausage of the type I've never seen here in New Zealand. I usually substitute Verkerk's Rookworst with acceptable results. Then she tosses everything together and covers the bowl, but never puts it in the fridge. After an hour or two in a not too hot room the salad is good. After five or six it's even better.

Alas, I won't have anything of the kind. I'll have better. It's a friend's birthday today and her partner's a chef. I'm invited. Beat that.

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