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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Monday, May 14, 2012

Becoming Me

The Supermoon on May 5th

In one of my favorite songs from my teen years, Dave Matthews asks, “Could I have been anyone other than me?”

Lately I’ve begun wondering whether or not I really could have become anyone other than me. A tree branch, I believe, best represents the path our lives follow. Each decision we make takes us in a specific direction that continuously branches and grows based on our choices and circumstances. However, I also believe that there are forces greater that guide and point us toward being more ourselves.

Sometimes I wonder if I would have ended up here no matter what. Maybe destiny is like a powerful magnet that keeps pulling us toward ourselves. Even in my earliest years, I was already showing signs of the person I am today. For instance, nearly every memory I have is connected to food in some way. It seems, even as a little girl, my mind new to catalog food-related memories and hold onto them for safekeeping. In high school, when the other girls were boy-crazed, I was more passionate about finding the right ingredients for a specific dish or concocting just the right flavor combination. Although I loved books enough to double major in French and English literature in college, I hardly remember any of the novels I’ve read; yet, I can recount meals from years ago in intimate detail.

The twists, turns, and forks of the tree branch of our lives
The other day while pan-frying shrimp, my mind was suddenly flooded with memories of being in New Zealand with my mom when I was young girl. We got dinner a few times at a hardly-memorable takeout Chinese restaurant; yet, when I was frying the shrimp, the scent of the batter meeting hot oil ignited a memory of that restaurant I didn’t even know existed. Although I was frying shrimp (not chicken) the image of their lemon chicken covered in yellow sauce was so vivid I could actually taste it, even though I haven’t had that particular dish in probably 25 years.

Although I feel like I’m a different person today than I was 20, 10, even 5 years ago, at the core I really haven’t changed that much. Despite the myriad of experiences I’ve had over the years, the things I loved as a child and have kept in my memory are still the same things I love and remember today.

I talk a lot about wanting to fall in love, get married, and have a house full of happy children cooking by my side and frolicking in a bountiful garden. But, I’m also realizing that sometimes the twists and turns on the tree branch of life don’t always go where we expect them to go.

My garden, a good place to frolic!
I’m not giving up the idea of happily ever after; yet, I also have the sense that perhaps the path to my destiny is different from how I’ve envisioned it. The more I become me, by delving further and further into a world where tastes, scents, and flavors reign, the more at peace I feel. The truth is: I could have become anyone other than me, but it wouldn’t have felt as right. I’ll always be the girl whose memory is intertwined with everything she eats. For the moment, bliss for me is found at the farmers’ market searching for the perfect peach and writing recipes to share with you. For so long, I’ve focused on the lack in my life. But, the more I become myself and the more I look forward to watching my current destiny unfold, the more full my life feels. Lack only exists if I allow it. 

It seems that the closer we are to becoming ourselves, the less we yearn for the things we don’t yet have. I still want a family, but I feel so content being where I am now that I no longer feel it tugging at my heart. Perhaps this is what it means to become yourself.

 

Destiny Shrimp


These are the shrimp I was making when my memory suddenly took me across the globe and through time to vividly experience a moment from my childhood. These shrimp launched the feeling that I’m finally becoming me. Here’s to following your destiny, whatever it may be!

Serves 2-4

Tartar Sauce

3 Tbsp. finely diced yellow onion
2 tsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish
½ cup mayonnaise
a dash of hot sauce, such as Cholula or Tapatio

In a small bowl, combine the diced onion with the vinegar. Stir in the pickle relish. Mix with the mayonnaise and top off with a dash of hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate while preparing the shrimp.

Pan-fried Shrimp

1 lb. lg. shrimp (20/35 count), peeled and deveined
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sweet rice flour*
½ tsp. sea salt
about 1/3 cup vegetable, canola, or peanut oil for frying

*Sweet rice flour is also called “glutinous rice flour,” but does not contain gluten. It makes a batter that’s light and crispy. It can be purchased at Asian markets and natural foods stores.

Beat the eggs together in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and mix to combine. On a plate or in a pie pan, toss the sweet rice flour and salt together with a fork.

There’s a neat and a messy way to batter shrimp. I prefer the later; it’s more fun and much faster. With your clean hands, grab three or four egg-covered shrimp and put them in the flour. Use your fingers to completely coat the shrimp with flour. Set the battered shrimp on a clean plate (it’s best if they don’t touch one another). Repeat.

Generously coat the bottom of a 12-inch frying pan with oil and heat on medium-high. To test if the oil is hot, drop a small piece of batter into the pan. If it sizzles pretty heartily, the oil is hot. If it begins to smoke, it’s too hot. Adjust the temperature as needed. Use tongs to place the shrimp in the pan. Cook the shrimp in 2 to 3 batches. It’s best if there’s room around each shrimp in the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. When cooked, place them on a plate lined with a paper towel. Enjoy immediately.


The messy but fun and fast way to batter shrimp


Destiny Shrimp
No sooner than the shutter clicked on my camera, I devoured this shrimp. Yum!