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An Ode to Brothers, Mothers, and Lunch: Tuna with Oranges and Lemon


We spent last weekend at a lake house in the Berkshires celebrating my sister-in-law Katherine’s birthday. Our days involved floating on the lake, beer and ribs on a pier, hiking, ice pops, fondu, a living room dance party, and pistachio cake. All in all, the perfect weekend away from the city. It was the first time I’d seen my brother Joe since I started Pomato Revival last month. He’s read it a few times, I’m told, but he has some catching up to do.

“You should read it,” I told him, “because, well, it’s about you. And us. And everything you grew up with. I think you might be interested.”

“Well, have you written about tuna, oranges, and lemons yet?” he asked, as he worked through his memory bank of traditions. This reminded me of one of the great things about my brothers: they’ve lived the same life as me, only from an entirely different perspective. Same memories, different filter. And thank God. How could I have forgotten tuna, oranges, and lemons??? It’s one of our favorite lunchtime secrets, invented by our mom on a summer afternoon. In fact, if you could take a summer afternoon and put it in a plate, you’d end up with this.

The recipe for tuna, oranges, and lemons emerged at lunch one day, when my mom tends to take whatever’s in the fridge and give it her Sicilian momma’s touch. I spent a good number of years thinking it was embarrassing and weird…the kind of thing I’d never want a friend coming over and seeing us eating. I just wasn’t sure what was considered normal sometimes, and even though this salad is delicious it always made me uneasy when thinking of how the outside world would respond. Tuna? With oranges and lemons? Who and what are you people??

But I’ve come a long way, thankfully. Now I’d wear sandwich boards to publicize this meal. I’ve been a fool, but I’m making up for lost time.


Tuna with Oranges and Lemons


1 can of tuna in water

1 orange, peeled and cut into half-inch wedges

1 lemon, peeled and cut into half-inch wedges

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Mix the tuna with orange and lemon wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. The more olive oil, the better. Toss. Eat with toast, or on its own as a salad. Dream of Sicily.


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