I love shrimp. Shrimp of all sizes. Give me a bowl of big ones and I’m set for dinner. Give me a bag of itty bitty ones and I’ll be a little annoyed, but I’ll whip up a salad. Shrimp dresses up any dish imaginable. If we can put bacon on ice cream, we should have shrimp on our burgers. I’ll bring shrimp to parties to win the favor of the host. (Who doesn’t love the person who brings shrimp to the party?) In a restaurant, I’ll upgrade any salad, pasta dish, or sandwich with shrimp if given the opportunity. Why they have to be so cheap with the number of shrimp in that upgrade is a whole other story. This story is about the tails.
When I’m digging into a bowl of pasta with shrimp, why must I first hunt and peck and cut off the tails? Isn’t there someone along the assembly line between the shrimp boat and my plate whose job is to cut off the shell? Can’t we just finish this little circumcision before serving?
Take shrimp cocktails. Where does it say that all shrimp must retain one inch of tail shell for proper serving? Where is it written that the tail must be left intact so the carnivore can consume the crustacean without use of utensils. I get it that the tail acts as defacto utensil. It is ingenious that evolution made shrimp easy for us to hold. But I want to eat that one inch of shrimp meat. And when the powers-that-be decided tails must be intact, did they envision a big beautiful display of firm, pink chilled shrimp next to an equally unappealing mound of discarded shells in crumpled up napkins. Take a poll of shrimp-eaters and ask them: would you rather have an extra bite of shrimp or a bunched up cocktail napkin with proof that you at more than your fair share of shrimp?
I want to enjoy all shrimp dishes free of the constraints of shell remnants.
If I had a restaurant I’d name it Naked Crustaceans. Or something in French, since even garbage can sounds good in French. (La boîte à ordures– see what I mean?) I would serve all shell fish stripped down and ready for consumption. Just dig in without worry. And I’d hide extra shrimp at the bottom of the dish as an extra treat. And there would be enough shrimp on your plate and in that cocktail to make you sit back and sigh.
And don’t get me started on lobsters. If I wanted to wrestle with the big shell, I wouldn’t have put on make-up and my best silk dress just to throw on a tacky plastic bib and clean up with 2 inch squares of moist towelettes. I’d have stayed home in a t-shirt, a roll of paper towels and really gotten into it at a fraction of the price. If I have to do all the work, I want a price reduction.
I call for a new rules of dining. Give me all the fish, and plenty of it.