Every so often when I'm testing a recipe for the Washington Post
, I run into an ingredient that's hard to find (yes, I'm talking to you coconut filled with water).
After filling up my cart at neighborhood Giant for the ingredients for three varying recipes,
I thought I'd escaped complications this time. Against all odds, I'd been able to locate possible troublemakers such as Agave nectar syrup and mustard seeds. Little did I know a little nemesis had it out for me.
Shrimp, such a harmless word, yet such a difficult bugger to track down when you're searching for raw, colossal, wild, peeled and deveined Gulf shrimp
When the seafood dude at Giant told me they only had frozen, that I would have to defrost the suckers and then peel em, I didn't panic. I headed to Whole Foods, surely they would have it, right? Almost. I was walking away with a package of peeled, deveined and colossal shrimp when it occurred to me ... were they wild? I went back to the counter check. Nope, they were farmed. Drat!
Before driving down to the Maine Avenue Fish Market
(I didn't want to get caught in D.C. rush hour) I decided to be smart and call a couple of other local stores, speak to the fish monger and have them verify whether or not they had my little guys before driving out there.
Eureka! The fella at Harris Teeter told me he had them. Are they wild?
Yes, they're wild. I get to the store: They're not wild. (!!!!)
God help me.
Deflated, I made my way back home, resolving to hit up Maine Avenue the following morning. On a whim, I pulled stopped in a Safeway along the way. There was no way they'd have it, I figured, if Whole Foods or the Teet didn't. But you never know.
That's when I met Ralph.
Did he have what I was looking for? Nope, he said. In fact, I'd have a really hard time finding them anywhere. (No kidding.)
He must have seen the look of defeat that came across my face. Four stores, four failures.
Then it happened. Just as I turned to leave, Ralph said, "You know, if you want, I have these shrimp that are exactly what you're looking for, but they would just need to be cleaned and deveined. If you can come back later in the afternoon, I could do that for you."
It was like I'd won the lottery. Ralph man, you totally rule. I came back in a few hours and my shrimp were ready. He didn't even charge extra. I think I've found my local fishmonger.