CENTAVO’S TWO CENTS
Our celebrated 2016 Shrimp Festival has gone in a flash. Early in November, and every year, our seaside village dresses up our Malecon for the expected shrimp crowd. People will descend upon our quaint little fishing town to sample the finest shrimp cooked in a myriad of ways.
The Festival usually runs all day for three days. People come to this event from everywhere. We are famous for this. After all, the fish taco was invented here.
One has to wonder when it was discovered that you could actually eat these bizarre crustaceans? Someone must have pulled one out of the ocean and bravely took a bite. Right? This was long before Sport Fishing and electricity came here…and before you or I were born. It is this action that is revisited with great enthusiasm.
During some point during the festival notorious food judges roam the Malecon sampling concoctions made with shrimp. The best recipes receive trophies of a larger than life size shrimp. They are carved in ironwood and coveted by all who deal in shrimp food. First place is revered in a way that only locals can understand.
I would love to be a shrimp food judge here but I don’t know what criterion gets you there. They have my respect though for this is a tough gig.
When the Shrimp Festival time frame arrived I was in Phoenix and cut my visit short so that I could attend at least one day of the festivities.
On the road to San Felipe people from California, Phoenix, Mexicali, El Centro, Yuma and parts unknown joined me in the trek home. They must have been newbies for they drove with outrageous speed. Ha! I knew there was plenty of shrimp…. but I felt my foot press on the gas pedal…just a little… just in case. A car passed me. He must have been doing 80 miles per hour… and another.
I would like to tell you that I unpacked my car when I arrived home, but I did not.
You could say that my body literally zoomed to the Malecon, which it did.
First stop…colossal blue shrimp stuffed with cream cheese with bacon wrapped around it. Somewhere in the cooking process it is battered…then fried. This is a food miracle I will never understand. I would like to say that I just had one…but that would not be the truth.
Then I see a woman with fried butterfly coconut shrimp on a paper plate. She is walking very fast and eating at the same time. There are plenty of tables to sit but when you are on the move with food…sitting is not an option. I grab her shoulder. I do not know this woman but when she looks into my eyes she knows that she must give me the location of where one can obtain such delicacies. She must act fast. The Malecon is long and there is only so much time to eat shrimp.
At times people don’t have to use words. Gestures are easier…a shift of their neck pointing to the direction of where one can find the shrimp they are eating is enough. We are veterans of where the best shrimp is waiting for us. We know the unspoken signals.
I become a shrimp detective. I locate all kinds of shrimp like a hound dog. The smells of delicious peppers, onions, chili, cheese, rice and hot sauce permeate the sea air. In my hunting process I have made new friends…I think.
You can be told there are different sizes of shrimp. The brown ones are mediums. The blue shrimp are colossal. Amazing things can be stuffed into these beauties. The medium brown ones have the best flavor to me. They are the staple ingredients to most shrimp dinner dishes around here. I am thinking size doesn’t matter….then I become worried that I may not fit into these jeans tomorrow.
Never compare a shrimp cocktail from where you live or lived in the states. Four shrimp smothered in ice and hanging around a glass bowl is hilarious here. Think of an old fashioned ice cream three scoop soda glass filled with…yes well I did count them one time…27 shrimp!!! That is the medium shrimp cocktail size. The juice and veggie items added to it can be slurped up after the shrimp are gone. Delicious and healthy! You can bet that will fill you up. And yet shrimp is a word that defines something small…go figure.