We celebrated. My grandson passed his driver’s test and it was his birthday. I made enough chicken shwarma for about eight people and the five of us blew that estimate out of the water. The boneless skinless chicken thighs soaked in a marinade for three hours in lemon juice and olive oil, lots of paprika and black pepper, cumin, and a little turmeric. Flakey kosher salt. The last hour of marinating, I added 2 big quartered red onions. Using a slotted spoon, I removed the chicken and the onions from the marinade and onto two sheet pans, sliding them into a 425-degree oven.
While the chicken roasted, I chopped. Three medium cumbers and a pint of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of parsley and scallions, sprigs of mint from the garden. I mixed this with romaine hearts and arugula. Just before serving I added the dressing made with lemon juice, yogurt and olive oil. I added 2 teaspoons of sumac I’d brought back from a trip to Jordan several years ago. It was still good and made a difference. And isn’t that what we want, to be sumac?
I sliced the sizzling chicken and heaped it onto a platter with the crispy-at-the-edges onions and a stack of warm naan. The fattoush salad filled a carved wooden bowl that my mother had bought when we lived in Kathmandu in the late sixties. It has a small crack on one edge, but after fifty years it still holds dressing, and memories.
Our grandson had three servings. Perhaps he’ll remember the meal–the occasion of turning nineteen and getting his license–fifty years from now. Perhaps he’ll think of me.