Who You Calling Shrimp?

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] liked shrimp eight months before I was born. I’m serious. My mother claims she craved two things while pregnant with me: zucchini and shrimp. The cravings didn’t go away after I was born. Those are still her favorite foods. And they’re my favorite foods too.

We’re a lot alike, me and Mother

Growing up in Kansas, shrimp were hard to come by. Sure, you could buy them frozen in the supermarket, but those things aren’t shrimp. Those are made in China. Probably in a lab. No sir, fresh-caught shrimp with the heads on are a different thing altogether.

When we first moved to Florida, neither Mother nor I had tasted fresh-caught shrimp. Not until a friend invited me to his family’s pier for a low-country boil. His daddy dumped a boatload of seafood on a newspaper-covered table and told us to go to town.

My friend popped the head off a shrimp and sucked the brains out.

“See?” He demonstrated. “Eat it like this.”

I made a face.

He grinned. “The head’s where all the flavor is.”

I pinched off a head and sucked. He was right. The heads were delicious. Soon, I’d mowed through so many shrimp my feet swelled up and my ears rang.

When we finished, my friend’s daddy gave me a handful of Ziploc bags.

“Take plenty home for yourself,” he told me.

So I loaded the baggies to full capacity.

My friend’s daddy winked at me. “You must be stocking up for breakfast tomorrow, son.”

“No sir.” I shook my head. “These’re for my mother.”