My mother loves shrimp. So much she’s nicknamed my good friend Dave “Besos y Camarones” — kisses and shrimp. Really. And he just eats it up.
Today is Mami’s birthday!! And I’m soooo excited. Why the excitement? This year in particular has brought some drama to our family. Eh, the last 6 months, actually. A lot of it is augmented because of our loud and explosive Cuban nature. You can only imagine how that goes. For that (and more) she deserves to be treated today with some regality and deliciousness!
Regardless of how bad and emotional things have been recently, Mami has stood her ground and held our family down. She’s personified strength, willed character, unparalleled love, patience and joy. She’s never lost her cool.
If you know Mami, then you know I could easily write a novela chockfull of her amazing doings and actions, mostly for everyone around her, stranger or friend, sometimes even foe; and my obsession with her. I’m totally obsessed with my mother.
But it’s her funnies that equally capture everyone’s attention. That 4’11″ little woman is funny. Her Englishisms are unique and deserve to be featured on Ellen. There are way too many to tell and I can’t even think of my top 5. One for sure is her “Selfish” when she means “Shellfish.” No lie. Every time. Doesn’t sound like it’s all that bad, right. It’s the added thick accent, that makes it even better.
You can hear it, can’t you??
Proof? Here’s a text my sis just sent me.
Yup. Major scam. Jajajaja.
This is Mami circa 1972 in playa Varadero in Havana. Isn’t she gorgeous? And look at those curves.
If only I….
Since I couldn’t go home today to celebrate her cumpli’s, which I’m selfishly bummed about b/c we celebrate birthdays in a major way in our family (remember the Mariachi band surprise last year?), I decided to gift her with a virtual meal. Shrimp scampi. She loves her some camarones and even though I don’t eat them, she’d appreciate that I made this for her… Someone else enjoyed it for lunch, but trust she’ll be calling me within minutes of this being published telling me “que atrevida eres. Como vas a cocinar camarones sin decirmey y encima de eso, enseñarme fotos. Preocura hacerme este mismo plato cuando vengas!“
She loves garlic, tons of butter, sometimes really spicy and citrusy food. Italian. Yeah. That’s what she loves most. This has all of it. It sang “Happy Birthday” to her as I cooked it.
I added some crushed red pepper flakes for some heat. She’d love that. Actually, if I were home cooking this, she’d tell me exactly what to put in it and for sure the peppery stuff would part of her list. I also added a sweet white wine because she’s an addict of sorts of all sweetness. Normally, I’d use a dry white but since she’s a fan of Moscato (way too sweet and inappropriate for this), I used a Riesling. I had considered some cumin (b/c cumin on shrimp is really, really meaty), but, nah… would be too much. I kept it simple but did add some greens for color, a bit of earthy sweetness and because she loves parsley and scallions.
I can’t tell you what the final sauce tasted like, though I have a solid idea. I tasted it in my head and could smell it as it permeated into my dressing room — forgot to close the door. Fishy smell. My anxiously waiting friend was making me nervous as he stood at my kitchen doorway asking me when it was going to be done. No patience. I hate that. Dirty dishes is what I was left with.
So, Mami, from me to you, un plato de una libra entera de camarones! Pa’ ti! I love you to itty, bitty pieces and so thankful for your amazingness!
Oh, and for teaching me how to cook really good food.
¡Feliz cumpleaños, BELLA MADRE MIA¡ :)
SPICY SHRIMP SCAMPI
- 1 pack of linguine
- 1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and divined
- 1 cup sweet white wine, like Riesling
- 2 lemons
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 2 tsp. capers, rinsed
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- salt to taste
- parsley and green onion for garnish
In large sauce pan, add butter and olive oil and sautée garlic, onion and red pepper on medium heat. Allow onion to become translucent, making sure not to brown your butter. Stir once or twice with wooden spoon. This should take about 4 minutes. Add shrimp, squeeze lemon and stir in cup a sweet wine. Stir and let cook for 10 minutes until shrimp is pink. Cook pasta while shrimp goodness is cooking. Add capers to shrimp sauce, reduce heat and let cook for 5 more minutes. Add pasta to shrimp sauce and toss in sauce pan. Add parsley and green onion to pan if you like or reserve for garnish.