Last summer in Nantucket, I enjoyed one the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. It wasn’t an elegant steak dinner, but a lunch in a sunny cafe called Lemon Press. I ordered the Persian Nachos, and I mean it when I say every bite popped.
I loved being served a meal where the colors of the rainbow were on full display. An instinct kicks in, telling me that I am getting my nutrients. But it was the mix of fresh flavors, how every ingredient fired up a different set of taste buds, that made the meal so delectable.
Pictured up top, the nachos were dusted with sumac for tang, the heat of the chili crisp and peppers were tempered with a cool cucumber yogurt. The feta cheese was whipped for spreadbility. The greens were local. The hummus was homemade. It was very clear that the chefs took pride in this dish.
When nachos are shared, it becomes a board game of sorts. It wouldn’t be this way were the nachos served in a more democratic way, such as flat on a tray so that each chip gets equal billing (pictured above). Usually they are piled high on a plate, with the top chips getting drenched and the bottom chips a boneyard. Hence the board game aspect. When the plate is brought to the table, everyone eyes the cheesiest grabs and optimum toppings. I’m a sucker for pickled jalapenos. Then there’s the nacho etiquette. Don’t grab a prime chip if it’s on the other side. If you peel off a cheesy piece that’s positively loaded, and everyone else’s options are joyless, you pretend that you couldn’t possibly eat all of that on your own, as if your mouth shrunk, and let some drip off into the Sahara.
I say we move toward serving nachos flat, even if it takes up more table space. Make sure every chip gets some love. I also say we should switch things up a bit. Like those glorious Persian nachos at Lemon Press, who’s to say we shouldn’t further branch out from the traditional Mexican dish? Side note: It’s not the most traditional Mexican food – Anthony Bourdain visited Mexico and got the back story for one of his shows.
Around-the-world nacho ideas
Italian nachos: Mozzarella, crumbled Italian sausage, chopped pepperoni, green peppers, onions and tomato sauce, dusted with oregano and basil
Korean nachos: Chopped bulgogi, spring onions, kimchi, pickled daikon, crumbled seaweed strips, drizzle of sesame, dash of soy sauce, and dusted with toasted sesame seeds
Indian nachos: Vindaloo sauce, seared paneer cheese cubes, chick peas, onions and mint chutney
Greek nachos: Taziki, crumbled feta, black olives, onions, shaved lamb, diced tomato, cucumber
Japanese nachos: Chopped sashimi, spring onions, crispy seaweed strips, seaweed salad strands, wasabi cream sauce, soy sauce, and dusted with toasted sesame seeds
A few of you may scoff at some of these options. But I’d snatch up every single one of these dishes if I saw them on the menu. Everyone loves nachos – why not branch out? And if you ever find yourself in Nantucket, don’t miss the Persian Nachos at Lemon Press.