I love shrimp. Here in Oregon they call them prawns…but I know a damn shrimp when I see one, so I haven’t succumbed to the propaganda of the Oregon seafood spin doctors.
My love for this crustacean developed when my Granddaddy first took our family to a shrimp dinner at the Knights of Columbus. All-you-can-eat freshly boiled shrimp, lovingly spread out on newspapered table tops with homemade cocktail sauce and melted butter is…well, it’s pretty damn enticing. My sister turned up her nose, but I was addicted after the first bite.
A dear friend loves to tell the story of when he took me and another friend out for a combined birthday dinner at a renowned Chinese restaurant here in Portland. The other birthday girl ordered Kung Pao chicken and I ordered the Honey Walnut Prawns I’d been hearing about from other friends. (Luckily, I had lived here long enough by then to know they were talking about SHRIMP). Our friend (rather strangely) ordered only an order of crispy green beans. It seemed like an odd choice, but I thought that he must be on a diet, so I didn’t question it. Ms. Kung Pao offered to share her meal with both Mr. Green Beans and myself, but what in the world did I need with chicken when I had a plate full of perfectly prepared shrimp? In turn, I graciously offered each of my co-diners one shrimp…a huge challenge for me, I can assure you.
After a while I excused myself to go to the ladies room and, unbeknownst to me, the pair had a lively discussion about the fact that I didn’t share my dish with them. Mr. Green Beans had figured out that I didn’t understand that we were eating FAMILY STYLE…that the two main dishes were for everyone to share. He asked Ms. Kung Pao to please not mention it to me…to let it play out. I returned to the table as cheerfully as I’d left it, and continued to thoroughly enjoy my delightful shrimp dinner and a wonderful evening with my two friends.
Mr. Green Beans and I were having drinks together a few weeks later when he decided that it was time to tell me about that dinner conversation with Ms. Kung Pao. As he regaled me with their version of our birthday dinner I sat there in disbelief…my face contorted in horror.
He just chuckled, obviously having far too much fun with this. “I knew you didn’t realize how it was supposed to work…but it sure was fun watching you! Did you really think I was just going to eat beans for dinner?”
I had no response to that one. My shrimp-lust had tricked me into believing whatever I had to in order to POSSESS that dinner plate, and I had no excuse. Now, in my own defense, I really didn’t even know what family style was…I’d never been in a situation where I was supposed to share my plate with anyone else…in my world you order what YOU want to eat! Maybe the Chinese restaurants in Columbia, South Carolina were exempt from this bizarre practice, at least when I lived there?
Shrimp is basically crack to me…sad, but true. My suggestion is that, if you decide to take me out to dinner, you choose a restaurant that plays my MY rules. Maybe a buffet…buffets are pretty safe…you might actually eat enough to get full.