Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Check it out guys! The girl from Maine has never peeled shrimp!"

I started culinary school the December following my high school graduation. Having spent most of my life trying to be a grown-up, and having been told throughout high school that I would be nothing with a college degree, I was more than excited. I was accepted to the only school, my first choice, that I applied to and had spent my entire senior year applying for scholarships to pay half of my first year's tuition.

I had a really rough time of it. Not because I couldn't hack it in the kitchen, not because I wasn't good enough, but because I was young, easily pissed off, and my stress release was to cry. Yes, I was that girl who would cry on the line- not because I was hurt or upset, but because I would get seriously, seriously pissed. Marco Pierre White pissed- however, instead of throwing plates of cheese at the wall, I would cry it off, keep my head down, and finish service. At the time, it was very much a love/hate relationship- but whenever I look back on it I do not regret it for a minute. Even though I couldn't afford to finish my degree, I would never, ever take back that year for anything. I made some of the best friends I will ever have at that school. I learned life lessons, the things in the culinary world that make my heart pound and the things that send me fuming. I got the chance to work side by side and learn from some of the best chefs I will ever know.

One of my most embarrassing moments was in our cooking theory class when I was asked to peel and devein shrimp. I knew the day would come when I would be asked to work with shellfish- I mean no one really knew how to scale, filet, or skin a whole fish, but I was pretty sure everyone knew how to peel shrimp but me. Rather than do it wrong and look like an idiot, I decided to ask. And still look like an idiot. My block-mates got a kick out of it- the girl from Maine who had never eaten shrimp. I'm just glad we weren't breaking down lobsters! Can you imagine?! Telling them I had never eaten a lobster before would have been the end of me. Mind you, I have tasted lobster before, just had never eaten one.

Well, this is the memory I had when I ate my first lobster roll at Dry Dock on Commercial Street in Portland, ME. I started my day with the strangest craving for seafood and it would not go away. Having given up on trying to find crab cakes (really, Portland, no crab cakes anywhere??) I decided to settle for some coconut shrimp and really made the plunge by ordering a lobster roll. Dear. Lord. Where has my mind been? How have I never enjoyed this delicious sea-cockroach before?

Luckily before leaving the shitheap of Maine, I have realized that I truly am a Mainer. I cannot imagine a recreational life without L.L.Bean, I honestly don't know a fruit that is tastier than a fresh blueberry, whoopie pies are the perfect ratio of cake to frosting, hot dogs are not the same without the red dye, Moxie is always best flat & warm, and damn...sea-cockroaches FTW. Yessuh.

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