Relationships truly are a series of compromises. Rick wants to go go see futuristic flicks or horror while I lean towards sappy romance movies. To accommodate one another, one time he will suffer through my three hankie movie so on our next visit to the theater I can do a silent scream peeking through my fingers while watching lifeless zombies drag their remaining body parts through two hours of gore.
Rick and I are as different as ice cream and beets. Oddly enough for us this works. Our opinions run on the opposite end of the stick on almost everything and when it comes to food where he will happily lap up a plate of sauteed liver, I would sooner crawl on my knees through a field of cow patties than be asked to dredge a piece of the organ meat in flour.
It’s not that I was not exposed to exotic flavors growing up. I can remember standing on the kitchen stool next to my grandfather watching in fascination as frog legs danced in a sea of butter in a pan on the stove. This, in the end, served to inspire me to cook them rather them actually introduce them to the interior of my mouth. As I’ve been told he enjoyed a variety of organ meats from sweetbreads (please) to tripe. I can recall beef steak and kidney pie being served at my grandmother’s table. I can also recall picking out all the pieces of meat (whether steak or kidney – didn’t want to take a chance) and storing them in my napkin for disposal after the meal.
Coming from Egypt, Rick has introduced me to a lot of interesting new flavors, so far none of which I’ve added to my “eeeeeuuw” list. Before I met him I had never tried falafels, for example, and now I serve them at least once a month. When my mother and her roommate visited recently he commented she was resistant to any new flavors he attempted to convince her to try. Perhaps it is that she was a housewife and mother (not that she isn’t now, but full-time) during a time when aproned housewives served standard American fare to their families at dinner time. During my teenage years I could predict our meal selections from a group of popular favorites such as tuna casserole, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf (luv meatloaf), spaghetti, chicken pot pie, and other artery clogging delights. At mother’s parties accompanied by background music compliments of the Tijiuana Brass (really?), you might have found party mix, deviled eggs, cheese balls, and creamy spinach dip. I never understood party mix but it was hugely popular at that time. Basically, cereal, nuts, seasonings and Worcestershire sauce.
Mother always enjoyed entertaining. Probably she inherited it from my grandmother who, when hosting a party, went all out to make a showing. I can remember sitting in her large kitchen with it’s window overlooking the Halifax harbor and watching as she put together intricate finger sandwiches with multicolored breads. The delicate bites were stuffed with delightful fillings such as lobster, egg, or tuna salad as well as lighter versions packed with watercress and butter. Always my fat little fingers were searching for a sample here or a nibble there. No wonder I was a wide as I was tall at a child. Who could resist?
It is told that when our neighbor’s housekeeper baked her amazing bread I was the first one to pull up my chair to the table to give her a review. Looking at pictures of me at that age, I can’t help but believe the rumors are true. As much as I love fiddling in the kitchen, bread escapes me. The last time I attempted yeast rolls I used two six-packs of yeast and never saw one bubble, I believe yeast sees me coming in the store and immediately goes dormant, sort of like those goats that faint when frightened. Once I actually got a package to rise sufficiently to use in a yeast roll recipe I wanted to try. According to the recipe the yield was two dozen light and fluffy rolls. Hmmmm. I managed to get ten rolls, each tensile strength. Rick, after bravely taking a bite, said I should immediately contact the War Department because he felt I had developed a recipe for a new secret weapon. The perfect tool, no fallout but plenty of clout. It took two of us to carry the bag with the casualties to the trash, lest someone got a hernia. Often I have considered taking a class in bread making, but my ego works hard enough to keep me above the surface without adding extra weight to the load.
Thankfully, I have had the opportunity in my life to travel across the U.S. on several occasions and live outside of California. Not that California isn’t a lovely place to live (if you remove the cost of living from the equation, it is heavenly). However, like all locations around the country, restaurants tend to cater to the tastes of the local clientele. Moving to the southern states, or to the east coast gave me the opportunity to expand my food choices and try a variety of new foods and even new ways of preparing food I was familiar with. Cajun food has become a staple at our house, and I remember fondly the rich chowders and mouth watering seafood I consumed while living in New England.
I remember when “California Cuisine” was all the rage back in the day. The first time I ate in a restaurant featuring this style of cooking, essentially healthy food beautifully presented, was in the 80’s. I was at a loss when presented with an enormous white plate with the only food to be found on it’s surface in the center. Basically, a haystack of greens atop a minute piece of fish with some veggies placed like a piece of art around it. This, I should mention, was not an inexpensive piece of art at that. The only other thing on the plate was a squiggly line of seafood sauce. Truthfully, it looked too pretty to eat. I assumed the entrée was to follow, but was told this was the entrée. Oh. Had I existed on that much food on a daily basis I could have hit the runway in Paris in a month. We stopped for a burger on the way home.
The difference between my Mum and I when it comes to food is that I will ask her if she likes something. She will shake her head no. I will ask her if she’s ever tried it and she again will shake her head no. I will try everything, well most everything, once or twice. If I just don’t enjoy it, then I won’t choose it a third time.
This is a great way to enjoy shrimp during the summer, and lighter than the traditional fried shrimp found in a Po Boy.
Shrimp Salad Sandwiches with Zesty Remoulade
2 sweet French baguettes
1 1/2 lbs. large cooked shrimp
1 stalk celery, finely diced
3 scallions, sliced thin
1/4-1/3 cup of remoulade (recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes, sliced thin
Cucumber slices, sliced thin
Red onion slices, sliced thin
1 medium stalk celery
1/2 large onion
1/3 green bell pepper
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 1/2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup ketchup
1 cup mayonnaise
Place the onion, celery and bell pepper in food processor and chop finely. Slightly wring out veggies in paper towels to strain. Whisk until well blended in a medium mixing bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Mix together shrimp, desired amount of remoulade, celery, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste.
Slice both baguettes in half widthwise, then each half lengthwise. Heat dry skillet over high heat. Place bread halves face down on hot skillet and cook until golden brown. Spread each toasted side with a generous amount of remoulade. Top bottom half of each with shrimp mixture. Place tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and lettuce on top.