Monday, August 10, 2015

The trouble with shellfish ...

A number of years ago, I had a bad reaction to some delicious shrimp enchiladas at the Carmelite friars' monastery in Houston. Not the normal allergic reaction, but a flare-up of my arthritic gout. As a result, I never eat shrimp, although my medicos point out that I am not allergic in the way that concerns them. But gout is not fun and doing without shrimp is not a burden.

Tom, of course, loves shrimp, but out of deference to me, he does not cook them at home and instead takes delight whenever he can when we eat out. Recently he discovered that the Mexican restaurant in Reedsburg has delicious shrimp fajitas and that has become a favorite dish.

Saturday night we wound up eating there. I ordered my usual ensalada de pollo -- not chicken salad in the American sense, but a salad garnished with bits of grilled chicken, sliced avocado, tomato and queso fresco, that nice Mexican white cheese. They give you ranch dressing on the side, but I skip that.

Tom ordered the shrimp fajitas. When the meal arrived, he looked at his sizzling dish. There were shrimp, but also bits of crab meat and scallops. He avoids scallops the way I avoid shrimp. It turns out that the waiter wrote the order in a sort of Spanish shorthand -- fajitas cam -- the cam short for camarones, shrimp. The cooks read it as fajitas Can -- can short for CancĂșn. That is one of their signature dishes and includes crab meat and scallops as well as shrimp. I explained to the waiter that Tom could not eat it because the scallops had been cooked with the rest and they returned quickly with a sizzling platter of shrimp and many apologies.

Sunday night we went to a local restaurant, part of a national chain, on our way to a meeting. There is always a concern that this may be a mistake, the place being notorious for slow service and us having somewhere to be afterward. But we gave ourselves plenty of time, over an hour. Tom ordered his usual -- a dish that includes a couple of pieces of fried cod and some fried shrimp.

And we waited.

There was what I guess was a family gathering at a long table in the middle of the place. There must have been twenty people. Getting all of their orders taken and prepared slowed everything down, but our waitress, who knows us well, showed up from time to time to explain and say things would be coming soon. Finally, after about forty minutes, she came to say our food would be up shortly. Then she went to take orders at another table. 

The people there had apparently never been in the place and had endless questions about the menu. I could see our waitress getting antsy, but she was polite and answered the questions. When they finally ordered, she rushed to hand it in and went to get our food. I could see her look, ask a question over the counter and then lean over and put her face in her hands. A moment later she came to the table empty-handed. 

The cook who was doing our food had put the shrimp on to cook and then disappeared. I suspect to smoke a cigarette or something. Perhaps to attend to the call of nature. At any rate, by the time he wandered back into the kitchen and looked around, the shrimp had burned and he was going to have to start all over.

At this point, we had been there almost an hour and had to leave. She was very apologetic, and we took it with fairly good grace, all things considered. 

Personally I think SomeOne SomeWhere did not want Tom eating shrimp this weekend.

Leviticus 11:12 -- "Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is detestable to you."

For all you fundamentalists out there, that means, "No shellfish!"

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