Sometimes friends and family come to visit Dan and me, which provides a good excuse to do touristy things we would never bother to do on our own. My parents came for a long weekend last week so we dragged them around town (in the rain) all in the name of fun. We strolled around St. Patrick's Cathedral, stared at Marina Abramović at the Museum of Modern Art, combed the booths at the Brooklyn Flea, walked around Brooklyn Bridge Park and stopped for hot chocolate at Jacques Torres. And it was fun. But it was vacation fun, not everyday fun.
I spent part of Sunday afternoon making lazy margaritas for my mom and watching college basketball with Dan and my dad. It was wonderful because it was such a normal thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. But sometimes I'd like to hang out with my parents and not think, "Wow, they will be gone in a day and a half."
The visit got me thinking about living so far away from family, which always happens when I spend time with my parents. Most of the time, it's really nice to have family nearby. It's nice to have people who will pick you up at the airport, lend you things, call you up when they're going for a walk in the park to see if you want to come along too. Going to museums is great, but I like doing day-to-day stuff with my parents. There's nothing better than pushing a giant shopping cart around a big, suburban Target with Mom. Probably because we rarely spend time together that way.
I could have made an elaborate, multi-course dinner to celebrate their first night in town, but I decided against it. Not only are my parents unfussy eaters, I didn't want dinner to be an event like all of the other points of interest on their trip. So I scaled back and made something more simple: shrimp scampi with linguine, Caesar salad, and Key lime pie. Just a few dishes I'd make for them on any old Sunday night if we lived in the same city and were able to have dinner together often.
In my fantasy life, they would turn up around dinner time, and we'd drink wine on my imaginary porch until the sun set. Then we'd all have supper around my imaginary dinner table, passing dishes and talking about what happened that week. We wouldn't linger too long after the meal was over because we knew we'd all be doing it again the next week. No long embraces, no tears. Just see you again soon.
And as we ate our shrimp and pasta, that's exactly what I pretended.
Dinner with my parents
Shrimp scampi with linguine
Key lime pie
Shrimp scampi with linguine
From Ina Garten, via the Food Network
(Serves 4 people)
1 Tbsp. salt plus 1 1/2 tsp.
3/4 pound linguine
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 1/2 Tbsp. good olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 lb. large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and de-veined
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
Grated parmesan, optional
Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve with parmesan, if desired.