If there is one thing on life I really love, it’s a good salad. And sumac. I love sumac so much that I keep it on hand always, and use it wherever I can. For me sumac is like fish sauce in that it lends umami to any dish that you can’t quite place. Sumac has a bold, pungent citrusy-ness, in both taste and aroma, with an equally bold color. A local market sells it so if you need any, let me know and we can work something out.
A fattoush salad has all of my favorite ingredients (lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, etc…), though I couldn’t find fresh mint so I subbed dill instead, which reminded me of a Fattoush salad that I had once with feta, which wasn’t called a Fattoush salad, but definitely had a lemony vinaigrette dressing.
Speaking of this vinaigrette, my husband and I honeymooned in Paris for 10 days and it was a transcendent experience. It was the first time I really started to explore food, and truly inspired me to cook and explore food, much like many other people that have visited Paris. I remember having a side salad in a bistro one afternoon after visiting Jim Morrison’s grave. The salad was dressed with a lemony mustardy vinaigrette, and it was a revelation. In that moment, all that existed was this salad and this vinaigrette and that sunny seat in Paris. Before I understood much about food it took me forever to really figure out how to replicate it, but whoever discovered this combination of dijon and lemon and olive oil and garlic? I applaude you. Clearly 13 years later it is an indelible culinary memory.
The other specific culinary memory I have was, during our walk to Au Piedmont Du Cochon, seeing a guy screaming while he swung from a lamppost outside of the gendarmes while they (presumably) tried to talk him down. True story. It became the life blood of our laughter filled conversation over dinner, and for many years to follow.