A Journey of a Thousand Shrimp Begins with a Smile

By Patricia B. Mitchell, 2002.

Calabash dock

Shrimp are for sale on the dock at Calabash, North Carolina.

My family of four Methodists ate fried fish on Friday night when I was growing up because that's when the freshest fish were available at the nearby Danville, Virginia, seafood market. My grandfather, with whom we lived, liked finned fish — not crustaceans, bivalves, or other obvious sea dwellers. (As fas as I know, Granddad Charlie never saw the ocean in all his 92 years.) On Fridays he brought home “a catch” from Danville.

I was probably three or four years old when I first ate seafood at the beach. As I remember, big shrimp in an iceberg lettuce-lined parfait glass were drizzled in catsup-colored cocktail sauce and set before me. Very wonderful fingerfood for a young child, although I doubt if my mother let me eat them that way. Nevertheless, I loved those delicately flavored water creatures.

Before long I tried them fried, and then, much later, on the Gulf Coast, shrimp everywhichaway — in gumbo, bisque, etouffee, sauced, etc., and best of all, barbecued shrimp at Pascal's Manale Restaurant in New Orleans (see Tom Fitzmorris' related story), where I ate the Whole Thing, ten tiny feet, bug eyes, antennae and all. Fabulous!

The following photos show just-caught shrimp for sale in Calabash, North Carolina. Incidentally, when you take home shrimp, fresh or frozen, the most important rule to remember is: don't overcook these succulent morsels.

Calabash shrimp
Calabash shrimp
Calabash shrimp