Ode to the Shrimp

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The USA and USSR will only agree when shrimps learn to fly—Nikita Khrushchev

My love affair with the shrimp as a delectable treat started when I was a wee lad.

I first had this delicious little crustacean on my plate on our family trips to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in the early sixties, when our family took a few  beach vacations. This was before Myrtle Beach became MYRTLE BEACH, the beach destination for all of Appalachia and the golf mecca of, well, just about anyone who could swing a club and felt justified to spend a weeks pay on a green fee so they could shoot 120.

At that time my pre-pubescent taste buds only desired the little shrimpies fried and dipped in ketchup. When we stopped taking beach vacations, these little decapods didn’t show up on my plate very often since eastern Kentucky did not employ an abundance of shrimpers.  However I was still able to sample them at Red Lobster or Long John Silvers when they started dotting the roadways of Kentucky.

My love affair intensified with the little delicacies when I lived in Houston, Texas and I realized you could have them fixed all kinds of different ways. My favorite way turned out to be the peel-and-eat-variety with cocktail sauce.

Since we, as lowly and destitute students had no money to sample some of the finer restaurants in Houston, we were always looking for cheap food.  We found the peel-and-eat mother lode at a restaurant on the shipping channel of East Houston…Shanghai Reds. On Friday night it was all the shrimp you could eat during happy hour. So for two hours we would show up and gorge ourselves like the Romans before they visited the vomitoriums.  Now this may have been a myth in ancient Rome but to many of my mates at the University of Houston, it very easily could have been more fact than myth.

As many love affairs come to an end, so did mine.  I thought I developed an allergy to my true food love. My lovely wife, who always  is so attentive and in tune to my whims and vagaries kept telling me it was all in my head.

So not paying attention to said lovely wife, I was without them for many years…until…my lack of attention to detail finally paid off.

I had been taking glucosamine for joint pain for about 6 months, probably at the request of my lovely wife.  I never knew what glucosamine was made from and one day I read on the bottle in bold print “IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO SHRIMP OR SHELLFISH, DO NOT TAKE THIS PRODUCT.” It was probably her way of proving that I was not allergic to shrimp.

Nevertheless, I was finally released from my pseudo somatic shrimp uncoupling!  Since then, I have been on such an amorous affair with  my favorite half-pint, salty, invertebrate it would make E.L. James blush, for I have found at least fifty ways I can eat this delicacy (Forrest Gump’s friend Bubba comes to mind).

Shrimp can live for 1-7 years, usually spending their lives near the ocean floor, or river or lake floors if they are fresh-water shrimp. They are omnivores, eating tiny helpings of plant and meat, like me if you substitute tiny with washtub-size.

They are the food source of many fish and whales and larger shrimp, when times are tough.  Their main defense mechanism is to quickly swim backward or sometimes hide in the sediment. So coupled with their sometimes propensity to feast on their own kind and backpedal rapidly, I envision they all are desiring to serve in the Congress of Oceania.

I say all that to say this, shrimp probably live a difficult life, but don’t realize it until they are in the midst of a big net with all their relatives, or in the belly of a larger marine creature or larger shrimp.  They live a sacrificial life, providing us with much happiness as when they are occupying a plate in front of us, such as the shrimp scampi dish I prepared in the above picture.

I hope God in His infinite wisdom has provided an eternal reward for shrimp, where they can live and swim freely and not have to hide in the muck of the ocean floor and can dine on the best algae and plankton. And all of their elections are fair and free of muck.

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