Texas is a magical place. It’s where nerds and hippies become international stars. Doubt this? Ask Lyle Lovett or Willie Nelson. Two imaginative storytellers who string metaphors on melodies like Christmas lights on a noble fir. Their songs cross musical genres in a way that few others can.
Patsy Cline suspends people’s breathing for two minutes and fort- five seconds with her rendition of Crazy. Her voice slices the air with surgical precision. Its what makes the piece electric.
Taken alone, the accompanying instrumental sounds would read like elevator music. Still they play their part. They set the contrast. They tinkle like a lullaby from a time we nearly forgot.
We marvel at not only the mastery of the notes but the soulful confession that the lyrics impart. Part of the mystery lies in the vocal waterfall. Highly varied pitches which are tagged to each syllable. We tumble though song with Patsy’s gentle push.
What’s crazy about this song is that Willie Nelson wrote it. At age twenty eight.
Chris Sirianni makes dishes in the way that Willie writes songs. His grilled salmon dish is legendary.
It is the breezy accompaniment to a dinner party where the weather invites the patio door to stay wide open. And corks pop in tune with the passing hours.
Chris’ salmon matches the temperament of any diner. It’s spicy enough to intrigue the adventurous. Sweet enough to seduce the tender-hearted. And healthy enough to attract the diligent.
On this occasion of friends under the late afternoon sun, we matched the salmon with a quinoa salad. Studded with cucumbers and tomatoes, this salad, dense with nutrients and mild nuttiness in flavor, came alive with the touch of a vinaigrette.
Chris is generous to share this recipe. Now from his heart through my hands, I give it to you.
Begin with a salmon filet. Lay it skinside down on a piece of foil whose edges have been crimped to form a shallow boat. You will need 1/2 lb per adult as an estimate. Italians don’t let anyone go hungry. Chris is an Italian.
Should you follow Chris’ instructions, you will be roasting the fish on the grill. Certainly a charcoal fire will impart a heady aroma of smoke. While this may be the preferred method, an oven at 375 degrees works as well.
Take your favorite Louisiana hot sauce. That eeriely red condiment that fires up gumbos and etoufees. Pour liberally over the fish. Cover it entirely. It is impossible to overdo this step.
Pack light brown sugar on top, thick enough to form a 1/4 inch crust. Dot with butter and squeeze fresh lemon juice.
Onto the grill or into the oven. Close the lid. The fish is cooked when the sugar has melted and begins to bubble. Remove from the heat. Garnish with chopped scallions.
Match it up with a starch and a green. Maybe a crisp white or whiskey from the Highlands. Dealers choice.
Now you have the lyrics and you have the melody. Sing it well.
And toast Chris. Thanks to him we have our own version of Crazy.
<click on the image of Willie to hear him sing his own song>