Someone asked recently “What’s your earliest food memory?”
I was able to nail it pretty quickly – tuna fish salad. I was about 2 1/2 years old and we were living in a temporary (furnished?) apartment in Jacksonville, Florida.
My Dad – then working for Ford Motor Company – had been transferred from Michigan to Florida and my parents felt like they were starting to hit the big time. And they were right, They bought a piece of property and were building a house. Meanwhile we lived in a temporary apartment. I was the youngest of four kids and was still in a crib. I don’t remember much about that time, but I do remember standing on a chair watching my Mom make tuna fish salad sandwiches. There was one of those pass throughs from the kitchen to the eating area, you know the kind with shutters to close it off? I was on the eating area side, observing. First she mixed the tuna salad in a stainless steel bowl, then she spread it on some white bread. If I know my mom, that bread was probably buttered first. (Argh – this is the legacy I’ve inherited!)
We didn’t live in that house they were building for long, maybe two years. My Dad was soon transferred overseas, to Germany in fact. Those were some very amazing years, living over there. I wish I could give the same experience to my children. I can’t. But I can still make them tuna fish salad.
I still love the traditional tuna fish I grew up with. Rich with mayonnaise (Hellman’s east of the Rockies, Best Foods out here – same owner, I’ve learned), sweet relish and sliced celery. You’ll find no disrespect here – I make it for my kids regularly.
But if I’m going to make a tuna salad for myself now, it’s probably going to look a lot more like the traditional Niçoise salad. In fact, as I was thinking about this I remembered a video we made a couple of years ago in my (unusually clean) kitchen. When I went back and looked it up I had to laugh. Yes, I think this is (unintentionally) my best best Julia Child imitation. Plus I was clearly having a bad hair day. Nonetheless, here is how I assemble a perfectly lovely Niçoise Salad.
Pair this with some very good company and my very favorite summertime wine, a lovely dry Rosé, and you are in heaven.
Bon Appetit mes amies!