Sophistication is not something that comes easily to me.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a beach town. Perhaps because I’ve got a tomboy-ish streak that likes to make itself known. But, whatever the reason, I have never just oozed sophistication. How does one even learn to be sophisticated anyway? Is there a Sophistication Academy I never applied to? Or some panache pamphlet I never read? Was Audrey Hepburn just born that way?
Luckily, I grew up in an area where there were no debutante balls and being uber-sophisticated wasn’t all that important. That is until I had tried to order my first Salade Niçoise. It was one of my particularly girl-y days around 3rd grade and I was wearing some sort of Laura Ingalls Wilder-meets-Laura Ashley dress that was all too prevalent in the mid 80s. I don’t know where I was but I felt I was mature enough to order something like a fancy salad. So, when the waiter came over to ask for my order, I said, “I’ll have a Salad Nick-was, please.”
Anyone from a family of many siblings knows what happened next. I tried to defend myself by claiming I thought that hook under the C was a typo and my siblings wouldn’t hear of it. It didn’t help that I had only recently stopped pronouncing “yacht” as “yah-tchet” (rhymes with hatchet) and “boulevard” as “bully-var.”
Since that day I ordered a Niçoise far too many times in some weird redemption of my mispronunciation — silently shouting “see!” to my siblings even if they’re nowhere to be found. Over time, my version of that salad has evolved based on the seasons and the selection of fish but this simple variation is one of the first salads I cook come spring.
PS – I’ve shared this recipe with my friends over at Whole Foods as part of the “Tiny (But Mighty) Kitchen” piece I wrote for them so go check it out!