LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

I swear I meant to take a picture of those great big beautiful Gulf shrimp, cooked to just barely done, fat, pink, and . . . . gone.

Buck and I have developed a routine. He prepares a traditional cocktail sauce, stirring catsup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and horseradish into a white ramekin. At the cutting board, I  grate a two inch piece of peeled ginger root into another ramekin, add three chopped scallions, the juice of half a lemon, a splash of dry vermouth, soy sauce and a dangerous amount of green wasabi paste.

To cook the shrimp, I toss a box of Zatarain’s crab boil in a pot three-quarters full of water, add a lemon cut into quarters, some salt, and shake in a tablespoon or two of Old Bay seasoning. I used to add some dried cut red peppers and ground cayene pepper, but when that water began to boil, the infusion became lethal to my sinuses.

After the water has simmered for a few minutes, I bring up the heat, add the shrimp, then watch it like a hawk. Buck leaves me alone at this point. I am easily distracted — especially by that man — and a distracted cook produces overdone shrimp. As soon as the water boils again, I stir the shrimp, gently turning them from bottom to top and back, over and under.  When they just begin to float, I cut off the gas burner, cover them for about 90 seconds, then dump them into that old green plastic colander waiting in the sink to receive them.

Shrimp, store bought potato salad, Saltine crackers and sauces go on wooden trays to the newspaper covered table. Maggie cannot stay on her nearby mat. Everytime she thinks we’re not looking, she slithers another inch, chocolate lab nose quivering upward toward the steaming crustaceans.

We peel, we dip, we double dip, first into the soy-ginger-scallion-wasabi concoction, then lightly into the traditional cocktail sauce. Buck and I were both over generous with horseradish, and we laugh out loud as the roofs of our mouths bloom in a heat that goes straight up through our noses like a blow torch.

What fun we have playing house.

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