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October 8, 2007
Enter Kitchen, Approach Aristocracy
There is something to be said about the democratizing power of the
kitchen – it can make aristocrats out of all of us.
This is how it works:
man of humble means goes to the kitchen and takes out of his freezer a
bag of frozen shrimp. From his refrigerator comes cream cheese and, from
wherever he stores his oversized mushrooms, he pulls out about half a
dozen. He has taken his first steps towards sophistication well above
journey continues as he pops the stems out of the mushrooms, slices off
the hardened end and chops the remaining stems down to the size of
sawdust. It might require that he chop, and chop and then chop some
more. Anyone witnessing this might think that he is the grips of a deep
mania. But, he winks mischievously. Let them think what they will!
he makes the unusual move of chopping his shrimp into even smaller
pieces. This never fails to wow ‘em in the sticks, because in popular
parlance, the word shrimp is already associated with the smallest unit
possible. Breaking it down even further, to some, is a revelation on par
with the discovery of subatomic particles.
now sautés the stems in butter and garlic until they are almost tender,
and then adds the chopped shrimp. He cooks all of this for a few seconds
longer to warm it together.
This is a critical bend in his journey from the peasantry to the
aristocracy. He has some warmed pieces of chopped shrimp, which has
convinced his peers that he has good reason to aspire to better things,
but now he must convince the landed gentry that he is one of them. This
he does by mixing his shrimp, tenderized mushroom caps and adding a
tablespoon of cream cheese.
Shrimp and cream cheese together provide an elegant combination worthy
of the high-falutin’. To this, he adds some chopped parsley and sliced
green onion to provide not just some extra flavor but also a critical
component of good taste – aesthetic balance. The sharpness of the green
does well to balance the brown mushroom caps and the largely white
shrimp and cheese mixture.
Scoop out the mixture and place in the overturned mushroom caps. There
should be enough to mound over each one a little bit.
Sprinkle atop this some mozzarella cheese (the snow atop the peak!), and
drop into an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Wait about 15 minutes, which
should be just long enough for the cheese on top to melt and the shrimp
and cream cheese mixture to get nice and warm. Remove, let sit for five
minutes, and watch your social status ratchet up a couple of notches.
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