Sumac, Sourness, Strangeness at Grape Leaves

Oddities and acid overload for lunch

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By David Hammond

When I was a Boy Scout, the only sumac I knew about was Poison Sumac, so the first time I saw this ingredient on a menu, I was intrigued.

There is, of course, a difference between the kind of sumac that grows in Chicago forest preserves and the spice that’s found in some Middle Eastern food. One may cause a severe allergic reaction and the other adds a slight citrus note.

Sumac is sprinkled over hummus, onions, rice, and in the case of the sandwich I had at Grape Leaves in Oak Park for lunch yesterday, chicken.  I like sumac. It’s a subtle spice, and I don’t have it often, so it’s a novelty.

Oddly, the sandwich of chicken with slightly sour sumac was filled with slices of lemon, adding to the overall acid trip of a lunch. I wasn’t sure if this lemon was mistakenly included in my sandwich, but there was a lot in there. The sandwich was listed on the menu as being made of “chicken breast,” but mine was mostly dark meat, which was more than fine with me, but also strange.

Equally strange: babaganoush seemed to be drizzled with vinegar rather than lemon, yielding a not very pleasant flavor profile.


Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

3 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy from Oak Park  

Posted: January 6th, 2011 8:01 PM

I find it strange that someone would write a news story about their sandwich. Grape leaves does the best falafel in town. Run and tell that.

MSM from Oak Park  

Posted: January 6th, 2011 6:32 PM

Personally, I love the babaganoush at Grape Leaves. I went out of my way to pick some up for a Christmas appteizer. I think the olive oil is wonderful on it. And Chicken Schwarma is great, too.


Posted: December 9th, 2010 11:20 AM

Good stuff. The path to paradise is paved with chicken sumac.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad