A few weeks ago Susie and Matt started floating an idea around. I don’t know if it was an idea so much as it was a concept, which in my head are subtly different. Maybe an idea is more actionable? I don’t know.
Anyway, here’s the concept: vacation photos on a slide projector. Cocktails and “fancy” finger food. You know, the sort of party you might imagine your grandparents having in the 60s. Except instead of the carousels full of slides, we’d have thumb drives. And instead of the finger food – wait, why shouldn’t we have the finger food? Especially when I have been just waiting for the opportunity to break out the SHRIMP TREE:
At some point in the last two years, my grandma gifted us with a bunch of recipe cards and other food-related odds and ends, and included in there was a brochure with recipes for fancy foodstuffs that could be made from Red Lobster products. And included in there was a SHRIMP TREE. The photo above is my attempt at replicating this beautiful, ridiculous thing. From the brochure:
Create a festive centerpiece with this Shrimp Tree appetizer. You can fill it with a variety of savoury [SIC] bites to be selected by the guests.
1 Styrofoam (18, 20, 22, or 24 inches high)
Curly lettuce, mustard greens, or kale
Large, cooked shrimp, tails on
Combination of cherry tomatoes, black olives, green olives, pineapple cubes, marinated mushrooms, or baby corn (choose 2)
Cocktail sauce for shrimp
Tear the center out of lettuce leaves and make long strips of the leaves, about 4 inches wide and as long as possible. Start pinning leaves to the cone with toothpicks to completely cover it with green, leaving ruffled edges to stick out between shrimp and other items. Make rows of shrimp, tomatoes, pineapple, or whatever you choose, on the cone securing them with toothpicks. You can leave toothpick “handles” or push them into the cone so the shrimp, olive, or tomato is just picked from the tree with the fingers, Surround base of the tree with crab claws, garnish with lemon wedges. Serve cocktail sauce in a separate bowl.
As you can see from the photo, I skipped a couple of steps. I couldn’t justify paying $4.99 for the appropriate size of styrofoam cone, so I used hard plastic canvas shaped in the appropriate form. I pulled a bunch of arugula for lining the tree, then forgot it at the garden. And I didn’t get crab claws.
Despite all of those things, we had a damned fine shrimp tree, and a damned fine dinner: pigs in a blanket, stuffed mushroom caps, a cheese ball with crackers, amazing vegan pudding pops, and, for a final non-retro touch, pumpkin bread pudding. We looked at photos of weddings and honeymoons and conference trips abroad. We drank Toms Collins. A fine time was had by all.