Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mr Shrimp, Please Remove Your Feet at the Door

Shrimp is one of the easiest seafoods to eat - most folks who aren't 'seafood people' can eat shrimp without making too many faces. This could be due to the fact that shrimp is usually battered, fried, dipped, or marinated and grilled into a mere vehicle to carry the coating to your belly. I'm classifying shrimp into two ways to eat it - appetizer mode and meal mode.

In appetizer mode, shrimp is great. It comes cooked and delivered to you with a built in handle, and you can tell which end you hold and which end you eat. If it's 'naked shrimp', as in shrimp cocktail, it's even easy to pinch the tail to get the whole piece out into your mouth. Love the shrimp!

Here's where the joyride ends on shrimp... you go to a restaurant, skim the menu and choose the MEAL... baked stuffed shrimp, shrimp scampi, the list goes on. It arrives steaming and hey, there's the shrimp with the feet still on. Now, what are you supposed to do? Here's a photo of my friend John's shrimp feet. He ordered Shrimp Fra Diavolo, which is loaded with tomato sauce over a bed of angel hair pasta. John is an architect, even architects don't know how to carefully, delicately, or smoothly extricate the shrimp from their feet as they slide around on a bed of pasta. Unless they have made a foot extractor in recent history (like a nutcracker, or an apple corer), this unnecessary surgery has to be done with a lot of consternation before you can enjoy your meal. Since you're using a fork and knife, you have to cut it, losing a portion of the foot meat inside the shell. Or, you have to reach into your bowl or dish and use your hands, which is nasty in public. Regardless of how you take them off, you have the unsightly "feet on the butter plate" thing going (as pictured here).

I'd like to think that I'm an average restaurant customer, I've eaten at all different levels of industry service and quality. I really think I can count on one hand the amount of times the feet have been removed from shrimp dishes that need to be eaten with a fork and knife. Is it a presentation thing? Is the food preparer afraid to touch the shrimp - are they using it as a sanitary handle? In Seinfeld's words, What's the Deal? Hey Chef - if anyone can actually answer why the majority of shrimp main courses MUST have the feet on them, please enlighten me and all of my Fun Food Fight friends who shout out their shrimp feet frustrations.

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