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…
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.
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.
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...
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 . ;)