Grilled Salmon on Fresh Spinach; Where do Babies come from?

We’re still traveling….  Old story; new recipe:

A few years ago, we were having dinner at a gorgeous country house hotel in the south of France.  It was a beautiful, warm summer evening and dinner was on a stepped terrace on the hillside sloping down from the hotel.  We had views looking into the sunset over acres of vineyards.  The candles were flickering in a light breeze; the women were in flowing sun dresses with the ‘de rigueur’  pashmina draped over the chair arm; the men in subtle silk shirts.  It was picture perfect!

There were only 6 or 7 tables and in the quiet evening there was just a low hum of conversation interspersed with the tinkling of silverware.

At one of the tables was an American couple with two young boys, close in age, between 7 and 10 years old.  They had obviously been given the strictest orders to be on their best behavior.  They carefully watched to see which utensil to use, which hand to hold it in, discussing with each other how to point the fork or knife.  They moved their bread from the tablecloth to their plate, then back to the tablecloth when they noticed the French couple next to them left their bread on the cloth.

Of course, the boys’ bread was full of sauce by this time…

They must have been admonished to stay neat.  They dabbed their lips before drinking water from the goblets and always wiped their fingers (after licking them) before smoothing the linen napkin back on their laps.

They did so well, for so long…. until the cheese was served.

I’m guessing after eating cubes of Swiss and Cheddar with their fingers for their whole young lives, the runny, smelly French cheeses were beyond strange.  Fingers didn’t work (and dad frowned at the attempt) and it was difficult to keep the cheese on the fork.  Finally, the younger one used his knife to scoop the cheese onto his bread.  Very good!

Except that after every bite, remembering the admonition to be neat, he wiped his knife on his napkin.

By the time the cheese was finished, and the dessert served, he was left with a sticky, smelly ball of linen and cheese – and nowhere to put it.  We could tell he was considering tossing it down the hillside when the waiter noticed his dilemma and  rescued him.

Still, we had all gotten through a 5 course dinner without a loud incident; no running, no screaming, no refusal to eat or demand for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

But young boys can only be so good.  After some giggling discussion between the two, an agreement seemed to be reached.

In the silence, over coffee, as the now-replete diners were enjoying the quiet of the evening, a young voice rang out clearly:

“Daddy, how do you make babies?”  came from the elder.

All conversation on the terrace ceased.

“You promised to tell!” chimed in the younger.

We all waited, in silence.

Dad looked around.

No help, anywhere.

The French couple gave an expectant “Oui?”

The Spanish couple lifted their glasses in salute.

The entire adult population of the terrace, including staff, looked , expectantly, at Dad.  And waited.

Dad finally spoke: “This isn’t really the place…”

“But you promised!”  “Please!!!”  “We really want to know!?!?”

The diners joined the chorus: “Yes, please.”  “Do tell!”  “Aw, come on, tell”  “We’ll be good.”

Yes, we ALL wanted to hear…

Good behavior is not always destined to last…..

Nor is fresh spring spinach.  We enjoy it while we can.

Grilled Salmon with Spinach
Grilled Salmon on Fresh Spinach

2 salmon fillets, 6oz each (180gr each)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced tarragon leaves
3oz (90gr) fresh spinach, washed, dried if needed
1 tbs snipped fresh tarragon leaves 
2 tbs snipped fresh marjoram leaves
2oz (60gr) feta cheese, crumbled

White Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 tbs white Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
3 tbs olive oil, divided

Salmon: Sprinkle cumin, salt and tarragon evenly over salmon. Cook on barbecue grill 5 – 7 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
OR put on baking sheet and roast in 400 F oven for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on thickness.
Salmon should flake easily with fork when done but it’s okay to have it still a bit pink in the center. Remove and with a fork or table knife gently scrape some of the salt, etc.  off of the salmon…. if you like.  
Salad: Put vinegar, mustard in a large bowl and whisk well.  Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Add Spinach, herbs and toss well to coat.  Add feta and toss gently.
To finish: Divide spinach salad and arrange on two plates. Lay salmon on top and serve.

All things being as they should, we should be back, chez nous, tomorrow….

And after eating Italy, we’ll likely eat nothing but grilled fish and salad for a long time.

Fortunately, it’s delicious

7 thoughts on “Grilled Salmon on Fresh Spinach; Where do Babies come from?”

  1. That is a GREAT story.
    And it emphasizes one of the benefits/challenges of traveling with kids when your mother tongue is English. On one hand, it’s usually possible to communicate. On the other hand, you have to assume that other people understand all your embarrassing exchanges with your kids – most of which are not nearly as charming as this one.

  2. Having raised three boys, I’ve been through my own interations of your wonderful story. I still cringe over the memories.
    Beautiful salmon-spinach dish! Welcome home!

  3. 7 and 10 and they didn’t already know? I think dad owed them an immediate explanation!
    The salad recipe sounds lovely, especially with the feta and herbs.

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