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As a young child, I was a picky eater, despising spinach and hiding carrots under my high chair. I would plead with my mom for pizza Lunchables and TV dinners with chicken nuggets. I was an adventurous eater when it came to anything sugary, but if it grew in the ground, no thank you! What a strange exception, then, that such a picky child loved a dish wrapped in tangy grape leaves.
Dolmas, or stuffed grape leaves, are seasoned lamb mixed with minced onions and lemon juice and wrapped up in a tangy grape leaf. Despite my normal aversion to green and leafy vegetables, I would lick lemony sauce off my fingers and beg for more any time we ate them.
I grew up eating dolmas under the watchful eyes of my mom and her best friend, a beautiful artist who taught summer camp in our backyard and always had freezer pops on hand. We would drive to her house in DC and the moms would settle on her shady patio surrounded by blooming trellises. My brother and I would go nuts vying for the attention of her three children (all older, and thus way cooler, than us), bouncing on the trampoline and lovingly hassling her dog. In between our energetic fits, we would return to the patio to make a plate of stuffed grape leaves disappear along with a platter of hummus and pita.