Sunday, July 30, 2006

SIROLO (part II): Dinner straight from the Sea

I REALLY DO LOVE working for my food.

For some reason a bag of naked green pistachios don’t taste as good as they do after being pried through their a hard shell.

The tongue testing mouth maneuvers needed to de-shell a sunflower seed makes an equally admirable and rewarding snack.

However, as I stare down at the seven “grilled shrimp” that look more like dwarfed lobsters on my dinner plate, I am caught off guard.

I had ordered a fish dish figuring that it would be fresh and delicious, served in the town of Sirolo. After all, I could see the home of my future dinner, the Adriatic Sea, from the town’s main piazza.

I am starving and now I have to make my way through each hard red shell and scrape out the meager meat inside. How does one go about eating these without totally grossing out their surrounding fellow diners?

I glance to my left at Berit, who has previously voiced her repulsion towards all seafood. She stares down in polite silence that does little to mask her disgust.

To my right Annie looks at me apprehensively. Highly allergic to shellfish and without her medication in Italy, my plate is essentially a death wish.

I tentatively take a shrimp and begin sawing, cracking and crunching through its little body. Pink meat is exposed in the tail. I question the edibility of the squishy brown guts in the abdomen.

An eyeball and antennae break off.

I’m reminded of a high school biology class. I crack another shrimp and a piece lands on Annie’s shirt. Some ends up in my hair. It’s going to be a long dinner.

By the end my plate looks like a war zone. Legs, eyeballs, antennae, cracked bodies and guts are smeared across my plate.

For all that work I’m still not full and thinking ahead to a gelato dessert.

All that takes is a spoon.

- Philly Petronis

EDITOR'S NOTE: The seven shrimp were huge (about 8 inches long), unadorned and whole. They appeared to be taken directly from the Sea, grilled and placed on Philly's plate.

And she ate them all.

Her determination was impressive.


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