There are a lot of things I can’t remember about High School. Like which classroom I was in, where I sat, who most of my teachers were, and a lot of what I learnt! One of the clear memories I do have is associated with food. I imagine we all must have a special memory box that holds the tastes and smells of foods we have experienced. Why is it that those memories always seem to be poignantly embedded in our minds?
I never ate in the lunch room in high school. I always used lunch time to cram for the upcoming test, and noshed on rice cakes and carrots (maybe that’s why I can’t seem to swallow raw carrots anymore). There was one girl in my class who would eat in the classroom as well: Chana’le. Every day, she would come with the same carefully packed lunch – a bag of thinly sliced rommaine, a container of dressing, and a ziploc of thin chow mein noodles. Now you have to remember, those were the pre-shmorgasboard-of-shabbos-salad days, and I had never seen chow mein noodles put into a salad! By the time Chanale’s salad was mixed, she had a large audience around her. The stuff smelled so garlicky and yummy, everyone in the class would just drift over. She was always happy to share, and some were lucky enough to get a crunchy noodle from time to time.
I hadn’t thought of that salad in forever. Recently, something spiked the memory, and I decided to recreate it. It took a few tries, but I knew I had it right when one bite seemed to turn back time, and there I was in my high school uniform, getting a taste of Chanale’s salad!
This salad is so light and refreshing, it makes for a perfect summer meal with a side of protein. Or, if you like to serve lots of dips on Shabbos, you can serve a big bowl of this as your greens. If you are watching your diet, you can leave out the noodles (or just put a few), but it’s just not Chanale’s salad without it!
On a very serious note…It would be remiss of me not to make mention of the terrible tragedy that has befallen the Kletzky family. I think there are some forms of human suffering that are above and beyond all comprehension. There are no words, only tears. May the Kletzky family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim. And may Hashem, the ultimate protector, watch over us and our dear children. I, for one, am holding them closer tonight.
thin chow mein noodles
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra light olive oil
Clean lettuce and pat dry. Slice thinly. For dressing, mix all ingredients except for the olive oil. Add olive oil slowly, whisking until emulsified. Pour dressing over salad right before serving and top with chow mein noodles.