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Salmon Sneezer Salad

The one that got away ☹

By Lamar WigginsPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
Salmon Sneezer Salad
Photo by Alina Chernysheva on Unsplash

Ahh, Summertime...

Should I bask in the sun or go for a run? Maybe ride a bike, maybe go for a hike. Maybe see a friend, which one? It all depends...

Or maybe it's time to give in to the cravings and satisfy my taste for a freshly tossed Salmon Ceasar Salad or SCS for short.

This is the story of the one that got away...


Summertime 2014-ish

My family is very tight knit. They will find any excuse to get together anytime, anywhere, anyhow. Frequently, I was the one who couldn't keep up with them and didn't show up for whatever the occasion was. Either I was working, or I was working again, or I was too far away, or I simply didn't want to go. But I was always invited and appreciated the thoughts.

My Family has some amazing home cooks who can boast about their prowess in the kitchen and back it up with the consistently great dishes they produce, including myself. I do 80% of the cooking at home and enjoy every minute of it as it gives me another creative avenue to explore. I've picked up some tasty recipes along the way and created quite a few that have won over the taste buds of my harshest critics — the family. If they didn't like a dish that someone made there was no holding back, they would tell you right away or at least their facial expressions would give you a clue as they took a bite and politely cringed. You couldn't get offended though, I never did, and I knew that someone other than me would find enjoyment in what I brought to eat...

Over time I've learned that the word "Interesting" when applied to the taste of something is usually not a good thing. It translates to, "I kind of get it, but I don't." I rarely taste something I find unappetizing. That's because the description of a dish needs to draw me in or tug at my curiosity before I indulge, if it doesn't then I usually pass on it all together.

My palate is very broad and accepting, I feel I can interpret flavors that I experience just like the pros on the reality cooking shows I watch, with Top Chef on the Bravo network being my #1 favorite. I also understand the flavors that I'm tasting: Spices have unique flavor profiles but not always easily identifiable. I can usually tell if a dish is missing something and what I would have added if it was lacking the flavor I expected from the description.

Although I find a lot of sucess in the kitchen there are also those What were you thinking moments. My most epic fail was when I decided to make spicy fried pickles. Long story short, they were the saltiest things EVER! It was like eating panko breaded salt packets that left you desperately searching for the nearest water source. Two other people who were brave enough to try one, (because one was all it took to know they were inedible) both had the same reaction as I did... Good times.

Now back to my family...

We all communicated via Facebook about who was bringing what to our potluck extravaganza. What were we celebrating? I don't remember but decided It was time to show my face, I was going to this one.

It was the perfect bright and sunny day with the perfect temperature of about 75 degrees. At least 20 of us showed up to this park on the east side of Cleveland OH. The park was full and seemed to occupy the happiest people you could find. We did the usual and engaged in the hugs, kisses and small talk part of the day. Then we began to set up the array of food & drink on two picnic tables under a shelter. My uncle was the ultimate pit master, no one could tell him different. He earned the title; well, I think he gave himself the title, but no one was gonna argue about it. Anytime he was there, we knew who would be manning the grill. He lit it up using mesquite and charcoal, which gives the grilled food a solid smoky result. Everything was going as planned.

I decided to make salmon Caesar salad and brought all the ingredients to put it together. It had to be done fresh. We all know what the degraded condition of a salad is like once it's been sitting around for hours, I couldn't show up with something like that. This dish was going to be simple... I first took the seasoned salmon to my uncle to grill up, telling him not to overcook it. Then I grabbed a cutting board to break down the romaine lettuce by slicing it into the right sized pieces and putting them into a large stainless steel mixing bowl. This version of a Caesar salad was not going to be traditional as I like to put other things in it. I cut up some cherry tomatoes in 4s and diced some red onion. I tossed them both in with the greens. The dressing was store bought since I've never attempted to make Caesar dressing, I'm sure it's easy but with so many different brands out there why bother. I like Newman's Own Creamy Caesar dressing brand; it's packed with all the correct flavors I look for in that variety of dressing. I poured the majority of one bottle in the mix and asked my aunt to start tossing it while I went to get the salmon. Upon return the salad was looking great, the tomatoes and onions were evenly spread throughout, and it wasn't overdressed. I went back to the cutting board to break down the salmon as it cooled. Salmon is the only fish I will eat raw. It's beautiful and has the perfect texture. (All my sushi fans out there know what I'm talking about.) Once it's cooked the segments come apart easily without becoming mushy minced meat. I walked back over to my aunt who was still gently mixing the salad. We were now at the part where I sprinkle in some Mrs. Dash lemon pepper seasoning — the no-salt kind. Just like Frank's Red-Hot sauce, "I put that sh*t on everything." I started to drop the salmon in the bowl and my mouth began to water from the amazing sight I was used to seeing. I could already taste the final product coating my tastebuds and transporting me to Flavor Bliss Land; a place I always want to go when I sit down to enjoy it. I've made this variant time and again and knew it was a winner. I was halfway done with adding the salmon when my little 10 yr old cousin who had been standing with my aunt the whole time SNEEZED right into the bowl. After the dirty deed was done, he looked up at us with guilty shame as my aunt dropped the utensils into the bowl and walked away. So many thoughts crossed my mind — do I spank him, do I try and get rid of the top layer, do I say whatever and continue to mix it or do I just cry and throw it all out? Figuratively speaking, I could have strangled the careless youngster who should have known to turn away or cover himself to shield whatever from flying into the mixture. All we could do was look at it and continue salivating at what was probably one of the more upscale looking dishes at the gathering. I respectfully yelled at the kid. He then went running to his mother who yelled at him some more. I pretended to feel sorry for him because now he was depressed and sitting alone on one of the benches. Yes, it was an honest mistake and a tough lesson for him to learn but I was really sorry for the salad that no one could eat. Although it crossed my mind that some of it was salvageable, I wasn't going to be known as the only person who still ate it. I sat there sulking in anguish as I began feeding myself pieces of the savory salmon that never made it into the bowl. I could have fixed everything by running to the store to grab more ingredients, but the thrill was gone. We never even got the chance to see it topped with freshly grated parmesan (Heavy Sigh).

I still make the same salad for myself as often as it calls my name. It's the perfect complement to a summery day. The chilled crisp lettuce, the tangy dressing, the crunchy bitterness of the red onions, the acidic punch of the cherry tomatoes, the sweet smoky flavor of grilled salmon, all tied together with the aromatic freshness brought in by the lemon pepper seasoning. If I was faced with one last request, it of course would be to have my version of the SCS, not the SSS that ruined a perfect day for me. I still managed to enjoy all the other selections prepared by the family that I wouldn't trade for anything... It doesn't have to be summer to enjoy my dish, but summer is the best time for it.

By Mohau Mannathoko on Unsplash


About the Creator

Lamar Wiggins

Creative writer in the Northeast US who loves the paranormal, mystery, true crime, horror, humor, fantasy and poetry. Take a chance, you'll be thoroughly entertained.

"Life is Love Experienced" -LW


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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (2)

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  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    Oh man!! That sounded delicious! Poor kid and poor salad :( Great storytelling!

  • This was an enjoyable read and I loved your rhyming start

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