Well, those of you who were present at the Florida Gathering got to taste my family recipe first hand. You can vouch for me that this particular variant doesn't make people deathly ill, can't y'all?

I was born in a hospital looking out onto a bay, with palm trees in the courtyard. I took my first steps on a patch of ground that was more sand than dirt. My tiny footprints are recorded in a slab of concrete at my uncle's house that's inlaid with the shells of shucked oysters. One of the first times I can remember puking was when someone tried to make me eat calimari-the good thing about that was, I got to have my ice cream before all the rest of the kids. I catch my own bait when we're going fishing, with a net and a bucket. I've hooked marlin and barracuda and grouper, and I almost got a shark once, except he broke my pole.

Seafood is in my blood.

The important thing about this recipe is, you have to keep the ratios straight, alright? So when I say:

  • Plan ahead and know how many you're feeding. Buy shrimp appropriately. I've found that if the people you're cooking for all like shrimp (as it is in my family), a half pound per person usually suffices. If, like noders, some of them aren't sure, bring it down to about a quarter or a third of a pound each. It's entirely your call. Make sure you buy the shrimp 'tails'. Down here, that means shrimp sans heads. And still in their shells, too.
  • Take one and a half cans of cheap beer (we used 'Old Milwaikiki' when down in Panama City, but that's just wrong) for every pound of shrimp you've got. You can use nice beer if you like, but really, what's the point? It's only going to affect the flavor a tiny bit, and that's tasty beer you could be drinking.
  • A coke for every pound and a half of shrimp. And I don't mean any of this diet coke shite. Coca Cola Classic. Not Pepsi. Not Big K. I mean it on this one. Go for the good stuff. Don't desecrate my recipe.
  • Got it all? I realize these last two are a bit confusing. Let's exemplify, shall we? Say you're doing 6 pounds of shrimp. Now, at a beer and a half for 6 lbs., that works out to 9 cans of crap beer. And with a coke for every pound and a half, that's 4 cokes. If this relatively simple math defies you, then you honestly need more help than I can give you.
  • A half cup of water for every pound of shrimp. This is easy. Don't shame me by fucking it up.
  • A lemon for every pound, which you slice up however you choose and squeeze the juice into the mix. If you want to toss a couple halves in there while it cooks, that's cool.
  • An onion for every 4 pounds. Make sure its a sweet white onion, Vidalia for preference, but I appreciate that not every noder lives in the south and can get them. Dice it up coarse, and toss the bits into the pot.
  • A couple of shakes from the cayenne pepper, and a handful of salt (sea salt, if you've got it). This is up to you, because only you can say how spicy or salty you like it. But I have to caution, don't go overboard with this. There are so many flavors already in the pot, and the whole point is to get a little of each of them. Kinda like a symphony, you know? Where each instrument brings its own thing to the mix and the whole is glorious.
  • And, if you have it on hand, a couple of shots of bourbon will ne'er do you harm. My baby BAR was kind enough to sacrifice some of his beloved Wild Turkey for the Florida heathens. I usually have Jim Beam around my house, but it's basically whatever you've got. Again, this is mainly for flavor, and a slight bit at that. I know better than anyone that liquor is precious with us noders.
  • Mix it all up in a big cauldron, muttering "Double Double, Toil and Trouble" while doing so. That's right. You heard me, bitch. You should have all the liquid ingredients and the flavorful things in the pot at this point. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and wait until it's bubbling and brewing until you toss the shrimp in. Boil until they're pink, taking the time to cuss with General Lee, have BAR fetch you a Coke and Rum, and chatter with jethro bodine and brassmule. When they're pink (not the boys. The shrimp.), take the pot off the fire, strain out the solid stuff and toss it over ice. Peel the shells away with your fingers and toss them on the ground. Serve with saltine crackers, panamaus and ccunning's cocktail sauce, and wicked good conversation with the hordes of people that descend, much in the manner of locusts, upon the food.


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