SEAFOOD SEE ME
I flew home in September naively believing that I would have the same longing and desire for Paris that I had the last time I visited in 2016. I was wrong.
I knew that I would love the tree-lined streets of my old neighborhood and being back early enough to witness the early signs of fall in NYC. I was quite confident that I would fall right back into the habit of taking the 2 train, “showtime” and complaining about the price of metrocards and wine. But I did not expect the feeling of not wanting to leave.
My itinerary was simple – spend time with my family and friends, and eat a lot of Jamaican food. I was able to stick to my itinerary, which was lovely and fulfilling, however what surprised me was the lack of a burning desire to go back to Paris. As my parents age, I feel the need to be closer to them. I want to listen to my mom’s stories, cook with her and co-opt her hilarious one-liners as my own. I want to slyly force my old-school Jamaican father to admit that he has emotions and feelings - I want him to talk, I want to get to know him. For the first time in years, I felt wanted to be physically present as my family, both immediate and extended, changes and grows.
On the flip side of my family are my friends, the family that I chose. I was able to see my two closest girlfriends from my Hartford years earlier in the summer because they visited me in Paris, but I saw the extended Hartford crew over the course of four glorious days for a wedding in Rhode Island. Before leaving NYC for the wedding, I was already struggling with these feelings but during the first night, and for the remainder of the weekend they kept creeping back.
Some of the people in the crew I see quite regularly because work brings them to Paris or they’re lucky enough to pop over once in a while, and others I see only when I am in the states, but that does not stop us from picking up right where we left off. Some are recent friends and others I have known for over 10 years. And those friends, the OG friends, as we get older I too find myself wanting to be close to them. I am able to be there for grand occasions like weddings, but the other equally important and life-changing events I will likely miss.
The first night in Rhode Island, we had a big dinner at the house with the bride, the mother-of-the-bride and the bride’s aunt and cousin. It was a full-on love fest and I was soaking it all in. The bride’s aunt contribution to dinner was an amazing garlic shrimp herb dish that went amazing well with the Pouilly Fumé that I had on hand (yes, I was that girl turning down my nose at non-French wines). As all fourteen of us were sitting around the table, sopping up all that delicious garlic sauce with bread, sharing our ‘how we met the bride’ stories and basking in the joy of all being together under one roof I found myself excited and jealous. Excited because we were all together, yet jealous because I knew that this was temporary, well for me at least. Six days after the wedding I would be back in Paris, whereas they would only be a few minutes or hours drive away from each other.
During the remainder of my trip, as I saw other friends, those feelings grew stronger. As the time grew closer for me to return, I found it harder to leave the house. I tried to rationalize it by telling myself that there are so many modes of instant communication, it’s okay. I can stay in contact and be updated on what’s going on, but I was bullshitting myself and I knew it. WhatsApp is helpful and FaceTime gives me the illusion of being in the same room as the person on the other side but it’s just not the same.
When I got back to Paris I was happy to be here I was able to get back into my routine, see my friends here, drink delicious wine for 4 euros and recommencer ma vie habitual but I am not the same. I realize that this is quite a privileged problem to have, if one would even consider it a problem, but it’s something I am struggling with.
Do I stay?
Do I want to stay?
Why am I staying?
If I stay, what kind of life do I want to have here?
If I stay, what kind of life will I build for myself?
I don’t know the answer to any of these questions yet, but I do hope that the more I cook, the more I open up and the more honest I am with myself, and the people around me, that I will see more clearly.
The Seafood See Me recipe
Dinner the first night in Rhode Island was the first time I actually acknowledged my feelings. Being surrounded by my friends, in a country I know, a language where I can express all my range of emotions without hesitation and in a culture that is not (completely) a mystery to me. I felt at home for the first time in the states for while.
There mix of the garlic and herbs combined with the dry sweetness of the wine must have opened up both my tastebuds and my emotions because I could not stop thinking about how I felt and why and what was I going to do about it. I still don’t have the answer but this meal did help me acknowledge, and “see”, my feelings.
1/3 cup of shrimp
1 cup of any mix of fresh herbs. I used parsley and cilantro
1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs (my dried herb mix has rosemary, oregano and basil)
1 big garlic clove or 2 small-to-medium sized cloves
1 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspon of ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon of paprika, or to taste
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 teaspoon of olive oil
Season the shrimp with salt, ground black pepper, dried herbs and paprika, then put to the side
Thiny slice garlic cloves, then put to the side
Chop herbs, then put to the side
Begin to heat the pan under a low heat, then add olive oil. Wait for the pan to slightly warm up, but not to the point where it is not smoking, then add butter (all of it because you want a nice sauce)*
Add garlic and allow to soften
Add herbs. **
Make nice big circular stirs so that everything blends well
Allow shrimp to cook for 5-10 minutes maximum, until they are nice and pink, and slightly firm and plump.
Once all cooked, serve over the rice or next to it or however you woud like! :)
*As the shrimp is cooking feel free to add as much butter as you’d like, but the more butter you add be sure to top it up with some garlic powder, or more fresh garlic if you have any, because you don’t want to lose that strong garlic flavor.
**A friend made a good point about adding the herbs at the end so that they don’t bruise. I totally agree with her but I didn’t find that happened to me, yes they were clearly cooked but I made sure that the pan never got scoarching hot. The herbs were just able to nicely blend with the garlic, butter and shrimp goodness that was taking place. But, feel free to add the herbs at the very end if you’d like to. Either way is okay to me.
You can find my go-to recipe for rice in the Tout Sole Meunière post here.