I was chatting with Honor awhile back, and she mentioned that she and John had hosted a little dinner party. Her guests had all but raised their plates to their mouths and licked them — previous guests had in fact licked the dishes with the remnants of Ina Garten’s Chocolate Pudding. Like the pudding, the recipe was flat dab simple.
“Well, you cut the kernels off some corn and don’t throw away the milk. Put a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan and poach the corn and the corn milk for a few minutes until the shrimp is cooked. Then add a lot of sliced fresh basil and salt and pepper.”
“Mom, don’t you remember this recipe? It came from some Gourmet quick-cooking book you Dad and gave to us before we were married?” Um, no, Love. I own a lot of cookbooks and this recipe never registered. But it should have!
The odd thing about this recipe is that although the tastes are amazing, it’s one of those recipes I can’t place on a map. Corn is Midwestern, though I know that the five-for-a-dollar awesome ears I’m getting from the local supermercado aren’t from the Midwest, not in June. Shrimp can be from lots of places. Basil skews Italian, and Italians know shrimp, but their corn turns into polenta. It’s a kind of culinary sport.
This is a Treat Dinner for me, accessible only when I can find great fresh corn. The basil tonight is from my garden, but most supermarkets stock fresh basil in clear plastic boxes year round and finding shrimp isn’t a problem. Tonight’s total for two diners is 40 cents for corn and three bucks for shrimp. Because Honor had mentioned the Gourmet provenance of this recipe I went clicketty at epicurious and here’s the recipe in it’s d’uh simplicity. In my d’uh stupitude I didn’t realize that my camera’s battery is dead, so no picture.
There’s just something unexpected and otherworldly about how this dish tastes. Fresh, rich, pure –what I long to be.