In high school, I worked at a local restaurant as a hostess. My father was the bartender/manager there and the place toughened me up. People get belligerent when they have to wait for their eggs after church on Sunday. Mother’s Day brunch could make a grown man weep. Valentine’s Day was an absolute nightmare, though I will never understand taking a loved one to a place where the “Gobbler” was one of the best things on the menu.The place did best with pub type fare: club sandwiches, Cobb salads and burgers. The baker did a great with the deserts-amazing bread pudding-and I still contend the Sunday brunch chef made the best hash browns I have ever tasted. Some of my fondness may be attributed to nostalgia, but that’s neither here nor there. It was good stuff.
Being the boss’ daughter had some perks. The cooks, guys named Spider and Burnie (so nicknamed because I am pretty sure he was baked 24/7) were very sweet to me. I think they were amused by my unpredictable mouth, dirty jokes and insane outfits. I never expected to be treated differently and they never tip toed around me (they were cooks), but in hindsight, I am sure they withstood an extra serving of BS from me they normally would not have accepted.
One example of my special brand of BS was the “Lemmonex Special”: a tuna club on wheat, smushed down, with curly fries on a separate plate. NO PICKLES. I probably ordered this about two times a week and everyone there knew how I liked it. It was always perfection. My love for a simple tuna sandwich is well documented and was forever solidified when I named my cat Tunah.
Some things have changed–a salary above minimum wage, co-workers who are not obviously high on the job-and some things have not-my sometimes questionable fashion decisions and my big mouth. My worship for tuna has not wavered either.
The recipe below is a take on a tuna salad I love at Whole Foods. Some tweaks have been made for the home kitchen and to make the ingredient list manageable. The mustard gives it some zest and cuts down on the amount of mayo needed. In something like this, I think fat free mayo is acceptable; I normally blanch at it, but there is so much going on here the full fat version isn’t missed. The artichokes add some texture and the olives add a pop of flavor. This is one thing I can change and still love; just please don’t ask me to tell a clean joke.
Tuscan Tuna Salad
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs mayo (I used fat free)
1 tsp oregano, dried
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ green pepper, finely diced
¼ red onion, finely diced
15 kalamatta olives, pitted and quartered (please don’t get canned)
½ can artichoke hearts, chopped
3– 6 oz cans white tuna in water
salt and pepper
Mix together first eight ingredients. Thoroughly drain tuna; it should be dry. Incorporate in to olive/artichoke mixture. Salt and pepper for taste, being careful with the salt as the artichokes are high in sodium from being canned. Serve on a salad or on toasted wheat bread. Makes 6 servings.