Summer’s Finest: a Rich Delicacy

Summer: a season filled with the joys of nature and a fresh alacrity. Heavy coats and snow boots are replaced with classy shades and breezy shirts. Summer also sees rise to some of the year’s freshest, most lively tastes. The culinary possibilities are endless, though beating the heat can make them limited – dishes that take hours to cook (such as stews and braises) are the last thing anyone wants in 100-degree weather. This is especially true when hosting for a number of people. Such was the case a week ago while I was throwing a dinner party for a group of guys. I needed a dish that could be both light and filling. Such a anomaly led me to the ever-reliable classic, Shrimp Scampi.
Shrimp and summer are as compatible as Fred and Ginger. The lightness of shrimp pairs beautifully with the seasonal timbre, and scampi is one of the simplest ways to fulfill this potential. The flavors are simple: garlic, parsley, lemon, and wine. This dish takes a matter of minutes to make, yet packs a LOT of taste! It is a complexity that is difficult to describe, as this dish achieves both a richness and subtlety of taste. The recipe I used for this had no pasta, just shrimp. This meal had to feed a group of guys, so I needed substance, and pasta can always take a meal that extra mile. In order to make enough sauce, I quadrupled the sauce with amazing results! I also added a pinch of red pepper flakes to give this dish an extra kick. Check out how to make this perfect summer entree by clicking HERE
For the musical pairing, I wanted to feature this dish’s seasonal charm, but also acknowledge its greater depth in flavor. The unusual blend of ethereality and substance fits beautifully within the style of Claude Debussy. The music of Debussy is characterized by harmonic freedom and tonal ambiguity, a “vagueness” that has often aligned his musical style with that of the Impressionists (though Debussy himself detested this term). One of his most renowned works is perhaps La Mer: “Three Symphonic Sketches for Orchestra,” composed in 1905. This work explores the lush, powerful nature of the sea, yet also captures its more delicate qualities. I have included a video recording of the first movement: “De l’aube à midi sur la mer” (From dawn to noon on the sea”).* The performance is by the Chicago Symphony, with Daniel Barenboim conducting (ps. 0ne of my favorite moments takes place at 5:15) – enjoy!

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