“Lexi!” she called. “Why weren’t you at church?”
“I had to work, jeune fille,” I said, teasing her.
“I missed you. We missed you,” she said, looking at her papa. “Gabby didn’t.” She giggled, and so did I.
“Can I stay with you instead of there?” she asked, motioning toward the big house.
Philippe joined us. “Céline, that is impolite. You don’t invite yourself to someone else’s house.”
“Non, non,” I said. “It’s fine. I get lonely sometimes. I plan to make a salade for my dinner. A kind of Salade Niçoise, only Seattle style.”
“I love Salade Niçoise,” Céline said.
“You do not,” her father teased. “Every time we’re in Provence and it’s served, you pick at it.”
“I’d like Lexi’s.”
3/4 pounds chunked (not thin-sliced), Alaska-style smoked salmon
1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, red or yellow, scrubbed
1 cup bottled champagne salad dressing
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces pickled green beans, cut in thirds
3 medium tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
5 eggs, hard-cooked and peeled, then quartered
1/2 cup niçoise, or other small, black, pitted olives
Break the salmon into large but still bite-sized chunks and set aside.
Boil the new potatoes for about 15 minutes in salted water, till they are just cooked through (you can run a sharp knife through one) but not falling apart. Drain completely, cut into quarters or bite-sized chunks. Place in a bowl and pour half the dressing over them. Add the egg wedges, beans, olives, tomato quarters, and salmon chunks. Drizzle vinaigrette to taste, and then sea salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir together; garnish with parsley and serve warm.