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Amber Paulen

Shrimp for Lunch

25 March 2011


Perhaps it’s true, living in Italy, that I write too little about food. Italians talk of food when they’re eating food and not eating food, buying food and when there is no food to be seen. The following is a small contribution to an exhaustless topic.

The fish guys set up shop on Friday because it’s fast-day which means no red meat. They park their van near the vegetable guys and open the side of it to display their catches. I can see them from my window, not the fish but the van and the vegetables spread into the road in colors more diverse as spring progresses.

Usually lunch is just fuel, to keep me going until a more elaborate dinner but sometimes, especially on Fridays, I like to eat spaghetti with gamberi. I buy a man’s big handful of shrimp and, for dinner, two fishes that I don’t know the name of. The fish guys chop heads and pull out guts and scrape scales and de-skin calamari, rombo and the fish I bought; their shirts are splattered and their hands probably stink sticking them between gills all morning. I buy some small tomatoes and, for dinner, fennel and asparagus. Mauro and his wife—the vegetable guys—are having a heated argument up on the stage where they weigh vegetables and collect their money.

Back inside I heat water. I quarter the tomatoes and drop them into a pan sizzling with aglio, olio and peperoncino. Because I think shrimp brains add a delectably round flavor I leave the heads on. Because I leave the heads on and like my spaghetti with some tomato, eating is extremely messy. But that doesn’t matter. I sit alone by the open window pulling off heads and licking my fingers and twisting spaghetti with a sticky fork. The shrimp skin comes off like paper; the shrimp flesh reminds me of butter. I eat the whole pan full. Then I make some coffee. Maybe later, because it’s a beautiful day and spring is singing in the boughs, I’ll go for a walk to eat a gelato.



Commentary for Shrimp for Lunch


1 On Friday 25 March 2011 carolyn manney wrote:

yuuum!! it’s only 9:30am and i just ate breakfast but now you’ve made me hungry again. i miss you and roma! and i loved your florence piece, brought back so many memories when i was there as a mere 20 year old. that view from the top of the duomo is breathtaking. xo

2 On Saturday 26 March 2011 Mike Walker wrote:

Alright, now this just isn’t fair. Hey, another book for you, Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray. Kind of along these lines, I think you’ll like it.

3 On Saturday 26 March 2011 Amber wrote:

Mike-I know, slightly ridiculous and thanks for the book recommendation, I’m checking it out. And Carolyn- I think your food writing is inspiring me…


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