Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Shrimp memories

I am avoiding work and instead watching Good Eats, which I do just about every night, since DirecTV's idea of a basic tier (somewhere in between very basic and extended basic from comcast) consists primarily of religious and child-oriented channels (but inexplicably does not include Cartoon Network). This episode, amusingly titled "Bowl O'Bayou", addresses the purchase, de-heading and de-veining of whole shrimp. When Alton Brown arrives at his rationale for de-veining the shrimp, he reminds us that "vein" is a euphemism for "digestive tract," which means that the blue-tinted vein is actually full of something other than blood.

That reminds me of a time I went to a restaurant upstairs from the original Starbucks across from Pike Place with my dad. Being that we were in Seattle, we were duty bound to eat seafood. I obligingly ordered a soup of baby bok choy and mussels, while pops ordered his usual filet of fish (no doubt salmon--it is rare to get better salmon anywhere else). At this point in my life, putting mussels in a soup seems odd, because of all the work required to eat them, but I can also appreciate that keeping them in a broth keeps them warmer longer, and allows more of the broth to flavor the little gastropods. After sampling some of the bok choy, I set about eating the mussels.

Now, at this point in my life I was not the foodie I am now. I grew up with Thai, Indian, Filipino and Mexican food, not to mention your standard Italian, American and Southern/Cajun fare, but I had balked at eating shrimp with the head on and only recently learned how to eat Ethiopian food (with enjera). I believe I had only tried serious sushi (sashimi and nigiri) a year and a half earlier. So, mussels were not entirely familiar to me yet, though they would quickly become a staple. I had heard that removing the foot was a necessary process in mussel consumption, and someone had once told me that if they didn't open during cooking, they were likely to be toxic. So, I proceeded to attempt to remove the mussel and leave the foot on the shell. At some point I came across some grainy matter in the mussel. I wasn't certain this was kosher to eat, and asked my dad "What do you think this is?" To which he promptly, and in a complete deadpan, replied, "shit."

All the funniest stories I know have something to do with poop.

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