By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
I just want to get away. Is it esoteric, literal or simply a measure of calculated desperation? I can’t tell you.
But, what I can tell you is that I simply want to run away, even if it is for a week or two… or a month… or three.
Yes, the three-month plan is starting to sound like a solid strategy. But where would I go?
I hear that Mexico is still wide open, although I haven’t been there in decades.
We used to travel there all of the time when I was stationed in San Diego, as it was only a small hop over the walking bridge to enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Tijuana.
And when it came to the latter, we learned how to develop a discerning palate when scoping out the proper places to eat in that glorious town.
Believe me, sometimes it was a game of survival of the fittest when it came to finding nourishing and safe sustenance in TJ.
No, I think Mexico is out. How about Puerto Rico? That might be a solid idea, now that I think about it.
Or, Costa Rica, my favorite place on this big green ball that we’re floating on.
Aah, Costa Rica, how I miss thee, with your waterfalls and pineapples, amazing food and welcoming people.
No, I have to stop the daydreaming, because I am pretty sure that travel is restricted to the country at the moment due to this novel little virus that has been going around.
How about Nassau for some scorched conch and a handful of Kaliks?
Where should I go? Well, how about nowhere?
I guess part of my wanting to run lies in opening the new restaurant, always a stressful venture, especially in a pandemic. But, Fortuna favors the brave, so I can only hope that the payoff will be worth it.
I will just have to wait for a more opportune time to address my wanderlust. Yes, I will simply have to hunker down in the cold and get things rolling successfully.
Wait a minute; how about the Keys? I could drive there in a day and a half and stay a few and run back. I may have to think about this one for a hot second.
No. Deep breath, Paul. Deep breath. It is Christmas time, you have a little empire to develop and you have to be serious.
So, what can I do to perhaps pretend that I’m in a warmer clime, away from the hustle and nonsense that I have so willingly placed upon my shoulders?
I can make Ceviche; that glorious combination of fresh seafood (technically it should be frozen and thawed according to the food experts so as to protect the diner from parasites. As an instructor and one liable for damages, I would be remiss if I did not mention that), citrus and peppers.
Ceviche is a ubiquitous Ibero-American meal in and of itself, coming from Peru but now found in most Latin American cultures.
It makes sense, as the oceans line a great many of these nations and island nations. It just sort of makes sense.
And taking the heat from a jalapeno and contrasting that with the sweetness and saltiness of seafood and bell peppers is perfect. The splash of citrus only heightens the flavor as I fall more in love with this dish as I’m writing it.
So I will have to live my travel life vicariously through the internet and others I know who are lucky enough to make a trip to warmer seas.
I will take the time to see the Winterfest of Lights in Ocean City, or the Cambridge bushel basket Christmas tree. This is the season to go to open-air Christmas Markets (if they are still having them) and otherwise enjoying what we have here on the shore.
At the end of the day, I get to finish what I started, expand the Pittsville restaurant, develop the Berlin restaurant, finish out teaching the semester and otherwise pretend that I am far, far away.
And nothing would make me feel like there are palm trees swaying nearby like some crisp ceviche and an ice cold beer.
Serves 5 for pre-meal
8 oz. large shrimp
8 oz. fresh scallops
1 ea. red bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1 ea. yellow bell pepper, roasted and peeled
1 ea. fresh jalapeno or serrano, finely diced
Juice of 3 limes
Juice of 1 sour orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ c. chopped cilantro
20 ea. tostones or tortilla chips
1. Peel shrimp if necessary, removing the tail.
2. Split down the back so that you are left with even, flat halves of shrimp.
3. Combine ingredients from shrimp to cilantro and refrigerate for two hours. The acid in the juices will ‘cook’ the protein in the shrimp. If this creeps you out, par-cook the shrimp briefly to get some doneness in them before marinating in the acid.
4. When the shrimp has had sufficient time to cook in the acid, place in a bowl and serve with the tostones and mojo. A salsa cruda would also work here as well; just make sure to balance the sour flavors from the juices with some sweet flavors somewhere in the dish.
—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary
Arts at Wor-Wic Community College
and owner of boxcar40.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com.