Happy New Seasoning Day! Sumac Brightens Up Your Lunch

Everyone knows someone whose delicate taste buds can't tolerate high-acid foods like pineapple, kiwi and citrus — specifically lemon and lime. It's not an uncommon occurrance, highly acidic foods are just that. And some people just plain don't like it. But I kind of need acid to cook properly, and not like that Friendsgiving junior year of college. That turkey was positively terrifying.

Back to the culinary world, though. Acid "brightens" up food, sharpens the edges, makes it pop. Food that isn't bright is dull. Thankfully for all you dullards out there, there's sumac, a seasoning from the Middle East whose bright, lemony flavor won't hurt your tongue a bit.

The dark red powder, harvested from a furry red beehive-looking thing in a tree, looks spicy, but imparts an entirely mild, slightly fruity tartness to anything it touches. Most traditionally sumac is used to season rice. I like to add some to a pot of boiling rice right before I put the lid on — it turns the finished product a really eye-pleasing shade of magenta and infuses it with citrusy flavor. Right, just like at Chipotle, you get it. Here are some other great ways to sub it into lunch instead of lemon.

A final note: do not harvest it yourself! Presumably you have heard of poison sumac, a relative of "delicious seasoning" sumac. Just buy it pre-ground, don't be a foraging hero. We've heard too many awful foraging hero stories. Like that time you picked fiddleheads in the woods for three hours and it was magical. That is an awful foraging hero story. Let me tell you about this one Friendsgiving...

More lunch seasonings on Food Republic: