Saturday, January 8, 2011
Day Eight: Who You Calling Shrimpy?
Last night, while out with friends, I had my first piece of popcorn shrimp in many years. I was surprised to find it somewhat enjoyable. But I wondered: had I just gotten a particularly bready piece? Were my tastebuds off? Or is there something magical about breading that makes food satisfying? So tonight, I put popcorn shrimp to the test. Gorton's brand. From the grocery store, baked in our oven.
I realize that I said I wouldn't be drowning out the flavors of my foods with lots of sauces, cheese, or whatnot. And it's true; I ate these shrimp with very little cocktail sauce. But what about the breading? Is that cheating? The fact is, I definitely tasted shrimp as I ate my full serving of them, and I smelled it, and felt its particular texture on my tongue. I even opened up some of the breading to force myself to look at the meat underneath.
The fact is, shrimp isn't fishy--it's shrimpy. The flavor and aroma, in my mind, can't be compared to anything. It did, however, transport me back to my childhood, to a Long John Silver's (I have no idea how old I must have been), where I know I once happily enjoyed popcorn shrimp, before I really learned what a shrimp looked like. I know we shouldn't judge books by their covers or crustaceans by their shells, but I really think my aversion to seafood started not when I tasted it, but when I saw the little creatures the food came from. Much, if not all, of my aversion to seafood (or at least crustaceans) may be rooted in their bug-like appearance.
So--I think popcorn shrimp can be crossed off the list of things I don't like (I am hacking that list to pieces!) but shrimp, sans breading, has to stay. They say the eye eats first, so if my eye tells me to run away from something, it's going to have to be convinced by my tongue and stomach.