Shrimp Barka

I haven’t been particularly hungry lately. 

Something about the heat and the summer sun. I just want barbacoa tacos and an occasional gin and tonic. 

That’s about all I want. 

That said, much earlier in the summer I made an incredible dish called Shrimp Barka that I never want to forget because it was so perfect. More on that later. 

One of the strangest things about graduating college is that you realize that your friend’s lives are no longer yours too. Things are no longer so intertwined. This is good and bad. 

I’ve gone through the photos, taking time to remember. You know what the greatest disappointment and lesson has been post-grad? That over the course of the past four years I sometimes let the occasional growing pains and hurts take up far more mental space than they ever should have. Instead of just doing what I really wanted. 

And now none of those things exist, so why did they have to in the first place? 

I go swimming every single day, sometimes twice a day. I wear a red bikini and think about when I was afraid to wear bikinis. I’ve been trying to get my head on right, trying to figure out the next steps. I’ve had problems with my throat which has been strange, and my band has recorded an EP that I hope that more than two people (not including my mom) will listen to.  And we went two-stepping the other night, sort of accidentally. It felt like the happiest I’ve been in a long time. To be held just for the length of a song, spin and glide. 

I love dancing more than I love almost anything else. 

I love Shrimp Barka. I love the story behind this recipe which you can read at length here: 

http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/elizabeth-alexander-memoir-eat-memory/

Once, there was a poet and a cook, and they fell in love and cooked for each other all the time. In the article, the poet says, “It was a house where Ficre made red lentils, and spicy beef stew, and Bolognese, and the curried vegetable stew alitcha, and I made eggplant parmigiana and chicken cotoletta Milanese in the manner he taught me, and pesto from basil in the garden, and blueberry kuchen and chocolate Pavlova and chocolate chip cookies with sea salt sprinkled on top.”

Only people in love cook like this. 

And when the cook wanted to seduce the poet, he made her Shrimp Barka. And then they fell in love and they stayed in love until the cook died. Now the poet makes Shrimp Barka to remember him.
I love the love story and I love the dish. 

It is sweet and savory and strange. Like this summer has been.  

The most beautiful summer I’ve ever seen, maybe because of the rain. 

I love you. 

xoxo

m

Caffé Adulis’s Shrimp Barka

from The New York Times, T Magazine

Yield: 4 servings
4 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium red onions, thinly sliced

4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced

5 very ripe and juicy tomatoes, chopped coarsely

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

½ cup finely chopped fresh basil (1 bunch)

15 pitted dates (½ cup), cut crosswise in thirds

3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cup half-and-half

1 pound medium shrimp (16 to 20), shelled and deveined

⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 ½ cups cooked basmati rice

1. In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté until wilted, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, and continue sautéing, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, for 2 minutes longer. Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover, and cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Add basil, dates and coconut, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add the half-and-half, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.

3. Add shrimp to sauce. Cook, covered, until shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and then the rice, and serve immediately.