Native people of the Pacific Northwest sometimes paired salmonberries with fish during feasts. That the fruit is even named “salmonberry” seems obvious when considering its homonym. Salmon berries, or salmon eggs, are not only similar in size, but in color and texture too.
This dish is my way of saying hello to the summer and good-bye to the spring. The last texture in this dish is the salmon egg, which reminds me of the birth of the berry this year. It lingers momentarily as the cool and tangy gazpacho provides one last taste of the Pacific Northwest’s first fruiting berry.
My hunger has been low since I awoke this morning with some kind of sinus irritation. It was a terrible day to become ill as some friends and I had a date to eat brunch at a tiny French cafe at which none of us had eaten. All of us had been excited about trying it. The dishes were great, but I lacked the wherewithal to enjoy myself wholly. I passed the rest of the day slamming water and tea and nibbling here and there on the empanadas a friend and I spent all afternoon preparing. Finally, much later, when dinnertime arrived, I opened my fridge and saw the dark red strawberries. Then the forest-green epazote. Something magical suddenly occurred.
WHY THIS COMBINATION WORKS: The strawberry is sweet and the epazote is pungent, but both possess a refreshing coolness that, when combined in this vibrant salad, awake the pallid tongue yet bring tranquility to the overworked body. Epazote, in small doses, is considered medicinal. Even though the Aztecs traditionally used it to prevent flatulence and expel intestinal worms and other parasites, I like to think that its pleasant but strong fragrance was enough to calm my sinuses for the time being. It is in the same family as spinach, beets, chard and quinoa–Amaranthaceae. In large doses, like most things, it’s considered toxic.