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Gulf Cuisine – Battered Up and Fried

Watch LUDO BITES AMERICA every Tuesday at 9P

More savory wit from our featured food blogger Diana Hossfeld, who writes the food blog Diana Takes a Bite.

“Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautĂ© it. Dey’s uh, shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That’s - that’s about it.”

According to these wise words from Bubba in FORREST GUMP, there are many different ways to enjoy shrimp. The possibilities are almost endless, the flavors and preparations as varied as the heart desires, limited only by the imagination of one fictional character. Or, in the case of one nonfictional character (me), taste.

I certainly appreciate a skewer of grilled shrimp, understand the allure of a barely cooked Santa Barbara prawn dangling luxuriously from its shell, and truly have no problem digging into a creamy puddle of firey shrimp and grits. They’re all fine ways to savor the “fruit of the sea.”  But, as I sit there, slicing through the sinewy pink flesh with a polite knife and fork, I can’t help but think how much better I would like it if that humble knuckle of shellfish were battered up and dropped into a vat of oil: fried – deep fried.

I love fried shrimp. Crave fried shrimp. Would push babies out of strollers for fried shrimp. It doesn’t matter in what context it’s presented – coated in salmon-colored mayo at a Japanese Izaka-ya, crammed into a taco laced with cilantro and shards of cabbage or shellacked with butter and bread crumbs and loaded onto a submarine sandwich, po’ boy-style - I always always want my shrimp to come bearing crispy armor.

It’s out of character for me, a girl defined by many as a “healthy eater.” Fried shrimp seems completely at odds with a diet that usually consists of whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables, and non-fleshy proteins (a diet of choice, mind you). I actually get excited about eating a giant mound of braised kale twirled around the tongs of my fork like spaghetti. I practically skip to the table for my morning bowl of oatmeal. I have absolutely no qualms about quinoa. Clearly, I’m not the type of person that should be daydreaming about tempura shrimp mingling with spicy aioli so neon in color it could induce seizures.

But I do. My mouth salivates and my pulse quickens at the slightest mention or visual prompt. Because fried shrimp represents the gulf in my quinoa-centric, fiber-heavy, impossibly green cuisine. Or, to put it even more simply (and literally), it is my gulf cuisine. The only way I want my fruit of the sea to be.

And that’s – that’s about it.

Hungry for more? Tune in for a cross-country road trip with celebrity Chef Ludo Lefebvre as he reinvents American cuisine. LUDO BITES AMERICA airs Tuesdays at 9p on Sundance Channel.

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