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April 19, 2013

Reader searches for famous salad recipe

We all have memories of food, say, those of childhood triggered by the aroma of baking bread or roasting lamb spiced with Syrian pepper. Many are connected to holidays, but not always. I have had several readers write to me regarding a food memory, such as the gentleman returning to Lawrence to attend his high school reunion; while there wanted to locate the store to which he and his mother would walk to buy homemade tomato sausages for Saturday night supper. There was the veteran who wrote of his vivid memory of a pasta dish eaten while stationed in Germany; he wanted to try to re-create that dish. A woman wrote looking for a recipe for coconut cream pie, which she remembered her mother cooking from scratch, not using a pudding.

This past week I received a very interesting note from a gentleman in Michigan who wanted to find a recipe for a salad made famous by Mama Leone’s restaurant in New York. Following is Dennis’s note which will explain his request, and how I became involved. I might add that I love to read of these memories, and love the challenge and pleasure I get from the search and solving the “mystery.”

Hello Ms. Altomare,

When searching on the Internet, I found your name/address from an article you wrote last year, for a newspaper, about the famous Mama Leone’s restaurant. Unfortunately I never did dine there, but I believe my parents must have. I wonder if you would, by chance, have the recipe for their famous salad. My mother used to make it back in the late ’50s. I have raved about it to my wife, as did my mother, as a wonderful salad that she has missed out on. My best recollection of the ingredients is radishes, anchovy, endive, lettuce and tomato, but it is a faint memory. I’ll cross my fingers that this might be enough to solve this mystery. I grew up in Washington, D.C, in the ’50s/’60s. Neither my mother nor I can remember how to make it.

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