The Classic Shrimp Cocktail


“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s, um, shrimp ka-bobs, 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.” – Mykelti Williamson

The Appetizer Of All Appetizers. When They’re Good They’re Very Very Good …

     Mykelti, you failed to mention the Classic Shrimp Cocktail. Of all of the ways to serve shrimp, it is my favorite. It basically is an appetizer that reached its height of popularity popular during the Madmen era. It was simply boiled shrimp that was dipped into a tomato-based sauce with various spicy additives, and was presented in a variety of ways. A popular way to serve it was at the end of a toothpick. Or the shrimp could be hanging on the rim of a cocktail glass.

     It should be noted that “Any cocktail can be a shrimp cocktail if you just set your mind to it. And if you carry lots of loose shrimp in your pocket.” – From a New Yorker cartoon.

     The shrimp cocktail became popular in the United States beginning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We owe the cocktail in shrimp cocktail to Prohibition in the 1920s. If you couldn’t drink a cocktail — not legally, anyway — you could at least eat one and make good use of your stemware in the process. 

And When They’re Bad, They’re Horrid!


     Of all of the things I’ve eaten, perhaps the broadest spectrum of bad to great was the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp can have a succulent taste just exploding with flavor to shrimp that tastes like they’ve been processed at a Goodyear plant.

     There’s really only two things to consider. The first is the quality of the shrimp, and the second is the sauce, which has to be homemade. The bottle kind(?) – use only in a pinch because the homemade variety is not that hard to make.

     While it’s certainly not as popular as it once was, it still can be a special treat. Make up some sauce using my recipe and prepare some shrimp according to my directions, and it’s party time. When you’ve been home for several days and you’re bored with the status quo, it’s the quickest way to import some Las Vegas glitz into your dining room. To see the recipe, click on Classic Shrimp Cocktail and scroll down through the narrative.

One parting quote: 


“Artichokes. These things are just plain annoying. After all the trouble you go to, you get about as much actual “food” out of eating an artichoke as you would from licking 30 or 40 postage stamps. Have the shrimp cocktail instead.” – Miss Piggy


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