Michael Harlan Turkell’s book Acid Trip celebrates the most under-utilized ingredient in your kitchen: vinegar. Turkell’s obsession began after he forgot to cork an unfinished bottle of wine. The ‘spoiled’ wine turned into such tasty vinegar he began making his own, and eventually used everything from maple syrup to coffee to produce complex, acidic delights.
In Acid Trip he tells vinegar’s story, from the ancient Persian drinking vinegars to the spoiled wines abandoned on the banks of Loire River that led to Orleans vinegar to the modern acetators used to crank out industrial vinegars. Vinegar-centric recipes from around the world and instructions for making your own make the book an essential volume for any cook who wants to know how to make food taste better.
The Italian approach to eating can be boiled down to “get the best ingredients you can find and do just what you need to make them delicious.” In the spring and summer, when vegetables are at their best, that often means pinzimonio, glorious produce dipped into a bowl of lightly salted extra virgin olive oil brightened with a bit of red wine vinegar. The word is a combination of the word pinze, or tweezers, and matrimonio, or marriage. referring to how you pinch the vegetables between two fingers (the tweezers part) and ‘marry’ it to the seasoned oil.
Our friend Sara Jenkins grew up spending part of every year at her mother’s house in Tuscany. That mom, food writer Nancy Harmon Jenkins, planted olive trees to supply her kitchen with oil. Nancy took her family to the olive oil cultures across the Mediterranean and eventually wrote Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil. She and Sara together wrote The Four Seasons of Pasta, and Turkell shot the book’s photographs.
Sara’s a chef, and she opened a couple of Italian restaurants in New York before settling in Maine, where she runs Nina June in the coastal village of Rockport. Sara used the flavors of traditional pinzimonio to create this salad, a celebration of vegetables, olive oil, and vinegar. She made it for Turkell after a week of carb-heavy photography, and he called it “restorative.”
Recipe Adapted from Sara Jenkins of Nina June, Rockport, Maine
Portrait of Sara Jenkins by Michael Harlan Turkell
For the shopping list
sugar snap peas
fennel bulb, cut into bite-sized pieces
celery stalks, preferably light colored inner, sliced very thin
Persian cucumbers, halved, sliced into 1/4 inch crescents
Drop the green beans into a pot of well-salted boiling water and remove them after 3 minutes. Use the same water to cook the sugar snap peas, but remove them after 1 minute. When the beans and peas have cooled, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Cook the almonds in about 1 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes, remove, drain on a paper towel, and chop coarsely.
Toss vegetables and almonds together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the remaining olive oil and toss, then toss again with 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Serve like crudites and eat with your fingers.