Okay, not exactly only now, like today. It has been a few weeks, perhaps a month, that I have, somewhat tentatively, engaged in this unusual behavior.
I actually cooked a meal for myself!
Not for my family, not for guests, not for a friend or a neighbor, not for any other human being.
I sort of felt guilty, in the sense of why am I bothering to waste time cooking a dish that only I will consume? Preposterous.
If you know me personally, or have been following my blog, you should be aware that I absolutely adore cooking, and especially baking, as you can see from the numerous videos I posted on my website, but I always had an audience, a houseful, a holiday, a reason to hit the stove, and create something awesome for everyone to enjoy.
I never considered myself one of the recipients, because why would I ever dream of cooking something just for myself, when there is lovely Amy’s Frozen Pizza, lots of crunchy cereals, plenty of leftover rice, or asparagus, or a jar of scrumptious Italian sour cherry jam ready to eat? That and a few crackers, a cup of applesauce, or even some tender sardines in olive oil (which I love!).
I wouldn’t dream of wasting any of my precious time making a meal for myself – better things to do, like work, write, teach, clean my house, watch Italian television, or a decent show on Netflix, munching on raw almonds.
Then my daughter gave me a recipe for quick and easy shrimp with butter, garlic, herbs, and lemon. She bumped into it on Pinterest, and seemed delighted with the results.
Okay, I love shrimp. I’m not much of a fish cook, not enough experience, but if I’m ever in a restaurant (rare occurrence), I will order a fish dish, simply because I never make it at home (unless they offer a hefty, juicy, medium rare prime rib with horseradish sauce).
I love shrimp so much that I have been known to eat almost the entire tray (including the replenishing) of plump, tasty shrimp at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Of course, I was embarrassed, but not enough to stop.
I remember being at a Christmas party at an acquaintance’s house, when I was eight-months-pregnant with my third child, wearing an elegant maternity outfit of a sparkly top and silky black skirt, four-inch heels, and carrying a dainty black leather clutch with gold detail. I did not know most of the guests, the living area was very crowded, and you could barely make your way to the tentalizing and abundant buffet, but I sure did! Cradling my sizeable baby belly with my hands, I inched my way to the tub of shrimp, determined and focused to get my share. About ten times. I’m pretty sure no one else got a chance at more than a couple of those plump, jumbo shrimp that night!
Getting back to this fabulous, super-easy dish, I tried out the recipe one day, meaning to share it with my husband for dinner. He was not interested (not a fan of fish), and had already had something to eat.
So, I ate it myself. All of it. One pound of shrimp over rice. Bliss. I genuinely believed I was in heaven, at least for that half an hour or so. The shrimp was frozen raw, quickly defrosted under cold water. I minced some garlic, chopped a handful of fragrant fresh cilantro, squeezed a juicy lime, added some spices, and a generous glass of white wine. I replaced the butter with extra-virgin olive oil (lactose-intolerant, unfortunately), and just barely reduced the delightful sauce over medium heat, then spooned the steaming shrimp and all over freshly cooked hot rice, watching it soak into it, envelop each grain, infuse it with a fantastic, exotic flavor, the kind you only experience in your dreams.
I plated it in one single large plate, poured a substantial amount of chilled white wine in a goblet (a must!), and enjoyed this luxurious, heavenly, sophisticated meal, that was actually the easiest thing in the world to make.
Here is the original recipe, my friends. You can use lovely butter and fresh parsley, with a good squeeze of lemon – more Italian-style -, or follow what I do, with the olive oil, lime, and cilantro. Either way it is delectable, and I’m pretty sure it will become your favorite dish also.
Serve this glorious personal feast on a gorgeous plate, or on a stunning Indian metal thali, like I did (check out photos). A meal fit for…well, a princess, which is how I feel while I’m consuming it. Yes, a princess who cooks her own meals…and would not want it any other way. Do cook, my friends, it is the highest of highs!
Go ahead and indulge, even if just by yourself, in front of the TV, Netflix on.
It will soften your blues, pull you together again, when you feel you are just hopelessly free-falling, and no one is there to catch you.
An earthy piece of life, of resilience; a spark of attitude and determination. Maybe even a secure rope to grasp.
Paint a smile on your face, and cook some shrimp.
Tomorrow will be better, I promise.