Ginger Gulf Shrimp & Pancetta "Carbonara" + These Foodways Shape Our Lives…..

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We all have a story…
Paragraphs among chapters that weave the tales of our existence, each one a great deal different than the other. However, they all begin with a beginning and will eventually end with an ending. What about the epilogue… that final speech reminding you this doesn’t have to be the end, there is always the ability for the story to carry on. When I first began this blog, like many others, it was with little to no particular direction in mind. What essentially started as a way to show friends and my mother what was happening in my kitchen, has turned into way more than anticipated. Post after post, I’m overwhelmed by lovely comments, re-tweets and mentions. It truly is something special, this little space on the Internet. I’m glad you are here, reading and enjoying my ramblings of nonsense, but most of all, for remembering the stories. My story is still being written, so much of it revolving around food, the south and people who have irrevocably changed my life.
Like Ms. Mattie

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There are so many like her and others that would go unknown if it weren’t for this duty I feel to carry on their stories, a duty that I feel I’ve slightly failed at so far.
So I want to share more of those with you. I want you to know of Ms. Mattie and her eccentric ways in the bayou, Mrs. Brenda Williams and her fried chicken that she serves out of a small trailer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Mr. Zechie, his bright smile, exuberant laugh and rusty old pickup full of the best pecans money can buy…that you can find at a stand on the side of the highway in New Bern, North Carolina. There are so many, an innumerable amount of souls that shape these foodways and become unsung heroes, at least to me.
With this platform, I feel like I’ve overlooked the importance of the food. It’s so much more than a recipe or a beautifully staged photograph to me. It’s my history, essentially what made me.. Growing up, I saw much of my families entire livelihood was dependent upon the food they produced and sold .. Each one housing their own story that I stood so patiently and listened to as my Aunt Mabel snapped peas, my Granny washed off collards, and my Grandma Dip cooked pan on top of pans of biscuits.

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Forgive me if I’ve become a bit long winded..
This is something that’s been on my mind for a while, barely contained at the surface and has kept me up at night. As I read post for things like fried chicken and think well “Shit, no one is telling that story, the whole reason behind where the whole idea came from or why we fry this chicken” Something so stereotypically associated with African Americans, is a dish originated somewhat by Scottish immigrants in the south and influenced by the west African slaves who worked in their plantation kitchens.. There is so much more there…I could go on.. I want to and I will.. But let me stop here..
and tell you about this pasta.

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There is no particular story for this. Well, that isn’t exactly true.
Dishes like spaghetti and lasagna weren’t often made for me growing up. So in college, by some mystic path of cosmic power, my roommate was Italian or more precisely the daughter of Italian immigrants. I was so intrigued by her, from the events that brought her to New Orleans to her ability to make the best “Carbonara” right on the illegal hot plate burner in a small corner of our dorm room.. I’ve used her same method to my quick pasta here. Included some white gulf shrimp that has been flavored with ginger and tossed in a little spinach….cause if there’s greens in the dish that means it’s healthy..
Don’t correct me on that…

*Side Note- Notice there is no egg here.. what would make this actually carbonara. So the title is misleading.. The intention was to add them, until I failed twice at a cake recipe that left me eggless and too tired to go get more...

When I graduated high school, my grandma gave me the pan you see in these photos (yes, high school)... It's seen good times, divorce, survived a hurricane and 16 moves in it's lifetime..
We all have a story... 

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Ginger Gulf Shrimp & Pancetta “Carbonara”


Olive Oil, as needed                           
1 pound large Gulf Shrimp
½ cup pancetta, diced (keeping the fat on the meat..this will add flavor)
2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cup parmesan cheese, grated                                             

8 oz fettuccine
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

To cook the fettuccine, bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Add salt to taste and a drizzle of olive oil. Pour pasta into boiling water and allow to cook uncovered until tender, stirring occasionally for about 10-12 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain water from pasta.
In a sauté pan over medium high heat add about 1 ½ olive oil. Once oil is hot, add in ginger, shrimp and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté shrimp until cooked thoroughly, about 4-6 minutes.  Remove shrimp from skillet. Add pancetta to the same hot skillet, browning slightly, then add in the garlic. Now you are going to deglaze the pan with the white wine. Deglaze is basically a fancy term that means to pour the liquid over a hot pan to get the flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pan. So pour the white wine in the pan and with a spoon or spatula, scrape up the bits as the liquid boils. Add in chicken stock, stirring to combine. Add in heavy cream and let it come to a boil. Keep stirring..
Now lower the heat and add in cheese allowing it to melt. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauté pan from heat.  Add in pasta to the sauce base, tossing to coat. Mix in chopped spinach and ginger shrimp, making sure to incorporate all the ingredients in with the sauce and pasta.  
Serve while hot but I don’t really need to tell you that now do I . ;)


  1. Erika, I just love your posts. Thanks for putting your heart into it and sharing the story and feeling behind the food. It's what this whole food blogging thing should be about!

  2. Beautiful, Erika. Thank you for that reminder that food is so much more than nourishment -- it's memories, history, family, pretty much the fabric of our being. And especially since you come from such a rich culinary background, I'm so glad that you take the time to share those other essential ingredients with us! On top of that, this pasta looks stupendous. Adding ginger sounds absolutely incredible. Thanks for sharing, dear friend!

    1. True... so true.. Thanks so much Cynthia..

  3. These longer story filled post, your story, stories of those who have influenced you - these are my favorite.

    1. I'll try to keep going then.. ;) Thanks Meghan!

  4. Erika, I'm a new reader and have yet to comment. I printed so many recipes from your recipe index and I cant wait to try them. This pasta being first on the list now, it looks insanely delicious. I love that you included the history of your pan, it has been through a lot and still making meals like this one! I enjoyed reading this and cant wait to read more.

    1. Welcome Kelly.. I do hope you enjoy the recipes.. and thank you for your comment.

  5. This is a wonderful post Erika, full of such thought provoking writing and beautiful images. I love hearing your stories and your experiences and history which are so different to mine and which I feel honoured to share with you.

    1. Thanks Kathryn.. I'm honored that you're here..

  6. It's a privilege to get a peek into your stories, your influences your history. I love that you still have the pot your grandma gave you. Beautiful recipe as always Erika!

    1. Thanks Maria! Thanks for all the lovely comments that you leave here.. :)

  7. I can't thank you enough for this post today. I want to sit on the porch with you some day and have you tell me all of your life stories. And then we can eat a skillet full of this carbonara. xoxo

  8. Don't ever worry about getting long-winded with me. I just adore your southern stories! This carbonara looks incredible, eggs or no eggs :)

  9. Such beautiful writing, as always, Erika.
    I love that your pan survived a hurricane and so much more. I know that anything that comes out of that pan is delicious.
    Please, keep telling us your food stories. Forever and ever.


  10. This is absolutely beautiful -- the post and the dish. Your writing is lovely, and I always enjoy your stories! xoxo

  11. Such a beautiful post Erika!! There are so many things I'd like to say in this comment but I don't even have the words to fully articulate them. I love that your grandma gave you that pan and that it survived so much. It's the stories that make the food even more soulwarming!! And as someone who doesn't eat eggs (weird I know!), having this eggless carbonara makes me beyond excited!!

  12. I just love everything about this, and you. F'real. Opening up and sharing real-deal stories is about the scariest thing I can think of and you do it so wonderfully, with humility, grace, and realness...I mean, it's all about the realness.

    1. Hugs to you boo.. I'm so glad that I can say that I know you..like fo real... Best part of this whole blogging experience was meeting you and Megan..

  13. Incredibly delicious and I love reading your stories!

  14. Such a beautiful post! I love reading your stories and helping you to carry on the memories and histories of all these people through words and food!

  15. I just love reading your posts. The rich history of each recipe is so beautiful.

  16. I loved each and every photograph here, also you said gulf shrimp and that made everything amazing not that it wasn't already ;) !


Thank you so much for your comments... I read each one with a kool-aid smile..