Wednesday Jan 17

Amanda-McGuire Standing in front of the raw oyster bar during a Sunday brunch buffet at the Brass Elephant on Sanibel Island, Florida, I, a ten-year-old, had my first glimpse into the secret world of sex. Each oyster was so delicate, gracious, patient, salty, and exotic that I was enamored.

Encapsulated in the world of eating raw oysters right there in the buffet line in my horrific paisley-print, ruffled-sleeved church dress, I couldn’t hear my parents calling my name, my sister laughing, or my brother exclaiming, “You’re going to puke from eating that many in a row!” I smiled and downed three more before my father, with an embarrassed/angry expression, grabbed the puff of my shoulder sleeve and led me to our table. Embarrassed as his eyes darted to the disgusted patrons who had viewed my binge from their tables and anger as his eyes darted to me, unable to hide the giddiness of my new crush—the raw oyster.

The first time I puked after eating shelled seafood, it was my brother’s voice I heard after the swelling had ceased and I had regained consciousness: “Pops drove that asshole boyfriend of yours home. You know you puked all over Max, and no one is helping you clean it up. You really shouldn’t eat so much shelled seafood in one sitting.”

But I hadn’t eaten that much. My boyfriend-at-the-time and I had gone to Red Lobster. About a year beforehand my family had moved back to Ohio from Florida, and I want to say we went there for our six-month anniversary or something special but I don’t remember. All I remember is having a couple of shrimp and thinking, That’s weird. I don’t feel well. I stopped eating the shrimp, but on the way home those couple of shrimp turned into what could have been Stand By Me’s campfire scene. And all of it landed on the dash, the windshield, the turn dial radio of my most prized possession—my 1974 completely original Volkswagen Super Beetle named Max.

After that fatal night I learned one devastating fact: I was allergic to shelled seafood. Allergic after spending years of my childhood in Florida eating nothing but shelled seafood. This fact quickly become the bane of my eating existence.

Like many of those unlucky enough to have a shelled seafood allergy, I must declare my allergy to the hostess (“I have a shelled seafood allergy.”), the waiter (“I have a shelled seafood allergy.”), and the kitchen (“I have a shelled seafood allergy.”) of every restaurant I visit.

McGuire-Seafood Especially now that food matters to me—that I live to eat, that I’m willing to forgo a Coach purse for one meal—this allergy royally sucks. When Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard cooked an orgasmic five-course meal at our favorite restaurant Revolver in Findlay, Ohio, I couldn’t eat the third course: a scallop dish. Instead, I had it with salmon. My husband ranted and raved about the scallop, how perfectly cooked it was, how the texture was divine, how with the pancetta and sunchokes all the flavors were “spot on.” I glared at him and internalized my distain for all who could eat shelled seafood.

But after watching his face (and the faces of those around me) melt with each little bite, how he savored the flavor in this mouth and closed his eyes before swallowing, how I could see the restraint it took not shove the whole thing in his mouth at once, I was overcome with straight fucking jealousy.

My anger has translated into being an eater, a meat eater. And after chowing my way through the many mainstream steaks, chops, and drumsticks available on most menus, I’m ready for a more exotic world than the one under the sea.

I’m ready to try what won’t kill me (if properly prepared): offal, the internal world of entrails and organs.

Forget the EpiPen. I don’t need to have food envy over shrimp cocktail when I can have lamb heart.


To further perpetuate my shelled seafood envy, Melissa Edgehouse created a dynamite main dish--Seared Scallops with Jalapeno Vinaigrette. Edgehouse's recipe is so hot it was a finalist in a James Beard Foundation Twitter contest! To compliment the heat, Sarah Pazur made the perfect, health conscious side--Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad with Creamy Cointreau Dressing. Pazur's delectable dish left party guests craving more and demanding the recipe. Finally, we've got to wash down all these savory morsels with a drink (or two). Carly Sachs of The Silverleaf Tavern in NY, NY invented Carly's Sunrise, a drink inspired by her morning breakfast ritual that is perfect to drink any time of the day. Cheers to tasty treats and a dinner table of full seats.

Melissa Edgehouse - Seared Scallops with Jalapeño Vinaigrette

Sarah Pazur - Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad with Creamy Cointreau Dressing

Carly Sachs - Sunrise Cocktail

Apart from obsessing about food and wine in Connotation Press and on her blog The Everyday Palate, Amanda McGuire also writes book reviews which have appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Literary Magazine Review, and Mid-American Review. Her poems have appeared in Noon: Journal of the Short Poem, The Cream City Review, 27 rue de fleures, So To Speak, and other literary journals. She teaches at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.