Posts Tagged With: Forrest Gump

354/365: National Fried Shrimp Day*

Today’s dish delivers big flavors in a small package. December 20 is National Fried Shrimp Day!

And though out of season, it is also National Sangria Day. This spiked punch, which originated in Spain, is made with red wine, brandy, simple syrup, and fresh fruit. Lots of it. You could shake Carmen Miranda’s hat over the punchbowl and still not have enough for a proper pitcher. Since there isn’t much fresh fruit in season the week before Christmas, we’re celebrating fried shrimp instead.

Shrimp have been an important food source for eons. By eons, I mean, a really long time! Archaeologists in 1991 discovered ancient raised paved areas near the coast of Chiapas, Mexico that they theorized were used for drying shrimp in the sun, and clay hearths nearby were substituted when there was no sun. Physical evidence of shrimping dating back to 600 AD was discovered off the southeastern coast of North America, evidence that Native Americans in that region incorporated the crustacean into their diets. And in the 3rd century AD, the Greek author Athenaeus wrote “… of all fish the daintiest is a young shrimp in fig leaves.” I don’t know about the fig leaves, but I’ll agree with the shrimp. There’s a reason it’s the most popular seafood in the U.S., after all! They can be cooked and eaten using a variety of techniques. Just ask Bubba from Forrest Gump! Today, of course, we’re asked to enjoy them fried. Well, okay…if you insist!

We drove up to Seattle for an early Christmas visit with Tara’s mom and family today. On the way, we stopped at Mrs. Beesley’s, a favorite roadside burger stand, for a fried shrimp basket.

National Fried Shrimp Day

Categories: Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

130/365: National Shrimp Day

There’s nothing tiny or insignificant about today’s food holiday. May 10 is National Shrimp Day!

Shrimp is the #1 seafood in America, ranking ahead of canned tuna and salmon in popularity. And yet, we should be eating even more, according to the USDA, which recommends 8 ounces of seafood every week. Shrimp have long been a popular and tasty food choice; evidence of shrimping off North America dates back to 600 AD. Native Americans caught shrimp in traps made from branches and Spanish moss, while at the same time early European settlers – who had no idea shrimp were so abundant off the coasts – were starving to death because they couldn’t find enough protein. During the California gold rush, Chinese immigrants began catching shrimp in San Francisco Bay, drying them in the sun, and either exporting them to China or selling them locally, officially kicking off the shrimp industry in the U.S. Shrimp trawling, a technique in which a boat drags a big net across the bottom of the ocean floor in order to scoop up shrimp, resulted in large harvests and revolutionized the industry. Shrimping grounds expanded, and the delicate seafood could now be enjoyed year-round. Shrimp got another marketing boon when Bubba from Forrest Gump waxed philosophically over his love for the crustacean. Suddenly, there were real-life Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants everywhere. Talk about life imitating art.

I love shrimp, and enjoy it in a variety of presentations. For today’s challenge, Tara and I decided to pick up some fresh-caught shrimp from the seafood counter at Fred Meyer. We marinated it in a Mojito Lime sauce, stuck it on skewers, and grilled it for dinner. Mmm!

Shrimp

Categories: Seafood | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

45/365: National Cream-Filled Chocolate Day

Once in awhile these food holidays make perfect sense, and today is one of those occasions: it’s Valentine’s Day, and also, National Cream-Filled Chocolate Day. The two go together like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump would say. (Forrest was also known to enjoy a box of chocolates every now and then, making the analogy especially appropriate).

Today’s history lesson is a little different. You’ll get the story behind Valentine’s Day, and how chocolate came to be associated with it.

There were no fewer than three Catholic saints named Valentine, making that name the “John Smith” of ancient times, I suppose. Most people believe the holiday honors the saint who defied Roman emperor Claudius II’s orders outlawing marriage for single men, who were forced into the army instead. Valentine performed the marriages in secret and, when caught, was sentenced to death. While languishing in prison he fell for the jailor’s daughter, and before his execution sent the girl a letter which he signed “from, your Valentine” – a phrase that has been around ever since. Because of his sympathy toward those in love, and his own romantic gestures, St. Valentine was given his own holiday, one that has come to symbolize love. By the 15th century, lovers were presenting gifts to one another to mark the occasion; these included flowers, sweets, and greeting cards. Why chocolate? Because it has long been a symbol of love thanks to its, ahem, “mood-enhancing” properties (read: it’s an aphrodisiac, yo). Even the Aztecs would give cocoa as offerings to their gods, as a sign of appreciation. Appreciation for not smiting them with bolts of lightning, I guess? Anyhoo, the tradition persists to this day. More than 36 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate are sold on Valentine’s Day, and it’s a good bet that many of those chocolates are filled with cream!

I have often said that if anything trips us up during this challenge, it won’t be something tricky like Peking Duck or Chocolate Souffle. It’ll be something deceptively simple, like cream-filled chocolates. Sure enough, I found myself digging frantically through nearly-empty shelves of Target today on my lunch, searching for a box of chocolates. We had all kinds of chocolate in the house, but none of it contained cream in the middle, and truffles don’t really count. Fortunately, I happened upon one overlooked box of Russell Stover – the last one in the entire store. Whew! I had a piece of coconut cream, and Tara indulged in butter cream. Good stuff. Happy V-Day!

Russell Stover to the rescue!

Russell Stover to the rescue!

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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