Sumac is a a family of plants from the genus Rhus. In some Middle Eastern countries, the drupes of Sumac are crushed and dried to yield a reddish sour coarse powder. This is used to garnish salads and dips because of its color.
What is both funny and sad is when one Iraqi blogger back in November 2003 posted a
recipe for Sumac salad. One aggravated American emailed him to say:
Is your "recipe" just an evil trick? A way to poision the Americans? That could be inferred. Sumac is highly posionous!
You said: "Sumac is a deep reddish spice that is tangy and grainy." From the page you linked: English=Shumac, Sicilian sumac "The closely related New-World genus Toxicodendron contains only plants that (as can be inferred by the genus name "poisonous tree") are highly toxic."
In Iraq YOU may be eating a safe spice, but in the "New World" (North America, USA, etc), the variation of that plant that grows there is posionous!
To which the blog author replies:
No, dear, paranoid friend- I'm not trying to POISON *you* or anyone else... I had no idea sumac was deadly in your part of the world and even provided a link to better inform you of the plant. I assume that if you purchase it at a supermarket, it will not be poisonous... but what do I know?
Note: If I give you the recipe to a mushroom soup, I assume you won't use the poisonous mushrooms. Give me a break people.
Talk about ignorance and tin-foil hats.