As you know, we have a bevy of all-knowing, fabulous friends who we call on to bring their P.O.V. on a variety of local topics to our blogosphere. Today’s post is compliments of Gabrielle Shamsey: mother of two, artist, writer, and aspiring fishmonger (you’ll get it when you read her post below). In this installment, she gives her two-cents on how to re-imagine dinner for the whole family—and capture the warmth of a season that is still a few months away.
What to make for dinner? Ah, that daily, age-old question that crosses the mind of every mother since man discovered fire and women learned what to do with it (my apologies to all men out there who control the flame in their kitchens). During the cold, soul-searching winter months that are literally around the corner (it was close to freezing last night!), I am forced every morning to reinvent the six o’clock hour for my two young boys and their work-weary father. Chicken tenders? Pizza? Pasta with butter? Uh, cardboard, anyone? And while I dream of concocting savory winter stews laden with simmered root vegetables and braised beef, my ego is too fragile at this time of year to reinvent the food-wheel—I dare not subject myself to tear-streaked children gagging over a soft carrot in my beef bourgeon.
So, what’s a mother with undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder to do at dinnertime? Pick up her anchor and set sail for Nassau Street Seafood. That reliable, unassuming establishment is my secret weapon for beating the winter blues. I let my kids ogle the eye-level lobster tank while I pick up our entire dinner, from salad to dessert, all in one lovely, quick, stress-free trip. I survey their fresh produce to see what’s talking to me at the moment (what’s that you say, beets?). Typically, I scoop up the last freshly baked sourdough loaf like a fumbled football (they might have more in the back but I’m not taking any chances) and proceed to silently flirt with the key lime pies (you’re too decadent for a week night, really, stop it, you’re no good for me!). Once I have my sides in place, I merely pivot to come fact to face with the latest catch in the frosted-over glass case. I consider the jumbo shrimp only then to wonder if I’m in more of a tilapia mood. The salmon is sure to please, but is it farm raised or wild? No worries. Every employee at Nassau Street Seafood knows his fish, from gills to fin. They answer my questions with the authority of an elbow-patched professor (minus the pretension); clearly these men love what they do.
Once I’ve made my scrumptious selection, I allow my mind to envision the warm climates from whence my savory fish came. The Caribbean? The South Pacific? Off the shores of the Florida Keys? (Oh, didn’t those fish just have the life.) And out of respect for their ultimate sacrifice (this is how I justify not being a vegan), it is my duty to bring them home and ensure that this perfect, sweet-smelling flounder did not die in vain: I bread them with love (and a margarita in my hand, of course) as I play Jimmy Buffett and dance around in my flip-flops. I spread beach towels on the kitchen floor and rub sun block on the kids’ now-sun-deprived cheeks. I tell them to watch out for the seagulls as they dip their fried flounder into puddles of catsup and I am bolstered by the fact that summer is right around the corner—at Nassau Street Seafood. Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Company, 256 Nassau Street, Princeton; 609.921.0620 or nassau.jmgroupprinceton.com.