When I was a kid, I loved ordering peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at restaurants. The white bread, creamy peanut butter, and store-bought jam were coveted treats compared to the whole wheat bread/chunky PB/homemade jam that we had at home. The one person who wasn’t so fond of my ordering patterns? My dad. It would irritate him to no end: “We can make that at home! Order something else.” I knew where he was coming from in that he grew up pretty poor and felt that restaurant orders shouldn’t be something so ubiquitous and, dare I say it, pedestrian.
Hummus is one of those foods that was so exotic when I was a kid and is now found in pretty much any gas station convenience store. And, despite my “make it yourself” attitude for most things, I usually can’t be bothered to make hummus. Well, I had all the ingredients on hand, so I whipped it up for a quick snack about 10 minutes before having to pick up the kiddo from preschool. The 1/2-cup+ of tahini really adds a luscious texture and nutty flavor to the dip that I often find minimized or missing in those store-bought versions (particularly those sans tahini). I sprinkled some za’atar on top and drizzled with walnut oil.
I’m a bit behind and still need to catch up with the bread. I spent several days/nights over the holiday weekend with my mom and had the task of cooking each night. We went to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning and, knowing that, I decided if there were potatoes I’d make the frisée salad with lardons and poached egg. She lives in a mountainous area so I’m never quite sure what will be available compared to my own farmer’s markets. Potatoes there were, in spades! I got a mixed basket of red, gold, and purple potatoes, and bought some escarole from a lovely organic farmer whom I happened to recognize as a friend since 1st grade. With a blueberry pie for dessert (thanks to the husband and child going blueberry picking the weekend before), this felt pretty decadent for dinner being that salad was the main. It was perfect for the warmth that day while also celebrating fresh produce.
This salad is one I’ve eaten multiple times in restaurants, particularly with the ash-covered goat cheese (Cendrier) available in the Touraine region when I lived there during grad school–I ate it nearly every day for lunch. This was my first go of making it at home and, other than being irritated with lack of poached egg skills, it was a worthwhile endeavor.
So, to bring my story full circle, I pretty much order what I want these days, despite certain attitudes to the contrary. Some 18 years after my dad first told me to order something else, as I’m 3000 miles from my nearest family member, I went on a third date with a man I had met in a subway train station. As I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, he said, “But you can make that yourself!” I couldn’t believe it. I rolled my eyes at him. In the end, I married that guy, and as I write this, we’re exactly 5 weeks from our 15th wedding anniversary.