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Monday, February 28, 2011

Fresh Maine Shrimp - the season comes to an early end

Here in the state of Maine, fishermen are normally allowed to catch shrimp from December 1 through April 15. These delicious pink-bodied crustaceans are harvested by local fisherman with nets, and their annual tonnage is set by the government. Typically one could buy them from street vendors – a truck on the side of the road that brought them fresh from the boat and sold them in bulk – whole – to earnest buyers who stocked up on them for the coming year. They made for a cheap meal that would feed the entire family over and over again. I can remember my father bringing them home and my mother spending back-breaking hours cleaning them while we snuck them from the pile to cook with butter in a frying pan over the stove. The cats would go wild with the smell and thoughts of the smaller ones, too little to peel, that they could eat whole. They would claw at our all of pant legs, trying to figure out who held the jackpot.

My ex husband, who works on the waterfront, assisted with continuing the tradition by bringing home pounds and pounds of shrimp at a discounted price and we would spend hours of our own peeling and freezing the pink bodies to support the habit throughout the summer.

Apparently the roadside vendors have been squashed for the most part. I’ve had to scrounge around to find them at a decent price. Last year, as well as with this season, has abruptly been brought to an end due to the tonnage being met much earlier than expectation. I’m used to purchasing them at my leisure, when I have the time to peel them without distraction. I bought my first customary 10 pounds Sunday the 19th and cleaned them up in record time. The season for 2011 will end on the 28th of February – thanks Department of Marine Resources – now I have to scramble with the horrific winds and Marine advisories to find another 10 pounds before the season closes. Evidently there are so many shrimp that the fishermen have met their quota a month and a half early. Hooray for the shrimp stock, obviously they are breeding like crazy. Poor me, I need to scramble to keep the tradition alive.

For more information on the Maine shrimp landings, you are more than welcome to visit the State of Maine website here: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rm/shrimp/2011landings.htm

10 pounds of uncleaned Shrimp

Equals 7 cups of cleaned shrimp, and a massive backache. A labor of love, to say the least.


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