Repost for Father's Day: Shrimp Salad and a Love Song

reposted for Father's Day, 2012.

My dad, Joe, made a really good shrimp salad when I visited NY last week. He knows just how much mayonnaise to add and includes celery, too. I'll share the recipe in a minute, but want to tell you another thing or two about Joe that makes him extra spectacular.

  1. He teaches English (used to be HS level, now tutors at the College level).
  2. He has a great sense of humor and has taken to emailing New Yorker cartoon clippings he has saved over the years to all of us.
  3. He is a fantastic writer with several children's books under his belt, as well as novelizations of 80's movies that made me proud in Jr. High.
  4. He has a love for musicals, especially ones with great lyrics like "Guys and Dolls".
  5. He writes lyrics.

Wait, what? I didn't know he was a lyricist until this summer when Ms. Iz and I visited for two weeks. Joe's friend Bobby wrote a piece of music and asked Joe to come up with some lyrics to go with it. Secretly, I guess, Joe had been waiting for someone to supply him with some music so he could try his hand at lyrics. I do recall him taking music theory classes when I was a kid, but thought that had to do more with learning how to write music.

Well, let me tell you something. I had the joy (with some heartbreak thrown in) today to hear a version of the song he wrote with the music Bobby crafted. The song was fantastic. The heartbreak comes with the news that Bobby got a late diagnosis with cancer and died within two weeks. The song was recorded by his daughter for his memorial service and shared with my family.

The lyrics are beautiful, and take on a new meaning with Bobby's passing. I know that Joe was pleased to have been able to collaborate on this project and I'm proud of the result.

We didn’t know the road ahead.

How could we know,

So long ago?

Because we didn’t know, we said

It will go on


Yet time has many tricks to play,

And  time, we know,

Has played them all.

But still, when I look back today,

I see us then


            If we knew

            All we know now,

            Then could we two

            Even know how

            To promise each other

            True happiness?

We thought we’d found the magic key.

We didn’t know.

How could we know?

We thought that we would always be

Like fine Bordeaux.

We did not know.

Make this shrimp salad and think of Joe's friend Bobby while you do so.

Shrimp Salad a la Joe

  • 1.5 pounds of medium shrimp (20-25 to a pound)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 scallions
  • ¼ cup whole pepper corns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾-1 cup mayonnaise
  • salt, pepper, cayenne
  • In a non-reactive pot, add pepper corns and bay leaf to about three quarts of water and bring  to a boil.
  • Cook the shrimp for 4-5 minutes, until they’re the color of shrimp cocktail.
  • Drain the hot water.  Run cold water over the shrimp, or let them sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Dice the shrimp and put the pieces into a serving bowl.
  • Chop the scallions and celery and add to the bowl.
  • Add two tablespoons of mayonnaise and stir. Add more mayonnaise until you’re pleased with the mixture.
  • Add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour, or as much as 24 hours.
  • Serve with crackers or bite-size pieces of toasted bread.
  • Serves 4-6 people.