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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

Sympathy Salmon

Salmon with spinach and potatoes.

Sometimes the distress call arrives quietly in an ordinary email.

“Hey Amy. Hope all is well with you. I would love to get together with you for coffee or just to talk. I lost my mother on July 17th… I have my condo up for sale and am looking for another job. Lots of changes…”

It caught me off-guard and I wasn’t sure how to respond to this friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Sending a somber condolence note would be proper, but it would take several days to arrive and felt too impersonal. I couldn’t attend the funeral; that had already taken place more than a month ago, nearly 1,000 miles away.

I clicked the “reply” button.

“Want to come eat with me tonight? I’ve got salmon, feta, spinach and pasta. Also wine!”

“Yes, I would love to come eat with you tonight,” she answered.

A few hours later she arrived, bringing a photo album full of pictures of her mom as a young woman. We pored over the photos, examining the clothing, hairstyles and makeup. The dark lips and demure expressions! Years younger then than we are now, how did our mothers manage to convey such confidence and elegance, something we never quite believe we’ve attained? It remains a mystery.

During dinner we chatted about everything that concerns most everyone these days: jobs and health-care and the economy. But we also gabbed about plenty of things that delight us: travel and books, art and fashion. And we laughed – a lot.

As hard as it is to lose someone you love, that loss can bring out a real appreciation of the now that’s otherwise easy to overlook.

For dessert we devoured the homemade fruit compote my friend had baked, topped with ice cream. Even in her bereavement she wanted to bring something to the table for us to share.

Her mom would be proud.

Sympathy Salmon

  • Olive oil
  • A clove of sliced garlic
  • A few thin slices of onion
  • Fresh spinach or other greens, cleaned and roughly chopped; a handful or two
  • Salmon filet, about 3/4 pound
  • Splash or two of soy sauce, wine, broth or combination

In a heavy sauté pan over medium flame, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan but don’t allow it to smoke. Add the garlic and onions and cook until they start to brown. Add the chopped greens and cook until they are just wilted.
Place the salmon face down (skin side up) onto the vegetables and cook uncovered about 5 minutes. Add the liquid, then using a metal spatula carefully flip the fish over. Cover and allow the steam from the liquid to finish cooking the fish, about 5 minutes or until the flesh is no longer translucent. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve chilled atop salad greens.

2 servings

1 Beth Pollhammer August 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm

this sounds like a very simple way to make something very tasty. I love that in a recipe .


https://0.gravatar.com/avatar/ef157695b815e8dff8120315228f0464?s=44&d=identicon&r=G 2 Amy Rogers August 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Hi Beth, You may have noticed there are NO measurements in this recipe. That’s deliberate. You can change it up any way you like. It’s pretty hard to mess it up. Thanks for stopping by to comment!


3 Heidi Flick August 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Nice. Comfort food doesn’t have to loaded with junk and consumed alone in a ratty T-shirt. This is what comfort food is all about.


https://0.gravatar.com/avatar/67ec3550852ec036b7cf1fc5f0f5eaec?s=44&d=identicon&r=G 4 Clair DeLune August 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm

What a wonderful friend you are; and you know the power of food to heal and bond. Your friend is fortunate to land in the arms of a friend who knows her way around a knife and spoon… I should not have read this while doing radio… now I’m too snuffy to announce! xoxo


5 Julie Rogers August 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm

What a wonderful way to catch up with a friend and remember her mama. Sympathy salmon and spinach. Comfort food for the grieving and those who love them.


6 Rachel Eldridge August 28, 2012 at 8:31 pm

wonderfully and simply told


https://0.gravatar.com/avatar/ef157695b815e8dff8120315228f0464?s=44&d=identicon&r=G 7 Amy Rogers August 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

A compliment from cooking goddess Heidi means an awful lot. And Clair, I promise never to serve you salmon :-) . Julie, may our next salmon be one of celebration and not sympathy! Rachel, always nice to hear from you. Thanks, all.



Amy Rogers is the author of Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas and Red Pepper Fudge and Blue Ribbon Biscuits. Her writing has also been featured in Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing, the Oxford American, and the Charlotte Observer. She is founding publisher of the award-winning Novello Festival Press. She received a Creative Artist Fellowship from the Arts and Science Council, and was the first person to receive the award for non-fiction writing. Her reporting has also won multiple awards from the N.C. Working Press Association. She has been Writer in Residence at the Wildacres Center, and a program presenter at dozens of events, festivals, arts centers, schools, and other venues. Amy Rogers considers herself “Southern by choice,” and is a food and culture commentator for NPR station WFAE.