Shrimp boil: It doesn’t get much better than this

Written By Administrator On October 21, 2008

It’s the burden of every restaurant critic that no matter where you are or what the occasion, if there is Shrimp food nearby, someone will inevitably say, “Are you reviewing this?” It doesn’t matter if it’s a bowl of nuts or a tray of raw carrots and onion dip, someone is going to say it. And, of course, I have to pretend as though I haven’t been asked the same thing a hundred times before. That night.

Or, if invited to someone’s house for dinner — a rare occurrence for a critic, indeed — I’ll be greeted by the hosts at the door with the admonition, “Now, promise you’re not going to write about this.”
Well, I was invited to someone’s home for dinner recently, and I made no such promise. So here goes.

I first have to say that in most circumstances there is no reason for a restaurant critic to write about a meal in a private home. We write about restaurants that are open to the public. In the 20 years that I wrote reviews for the Orlando Sentinel, I declined to do write-ups of places like the Citrus Club and Winter Park Racquet Club because they were private and their restaurants were not open to nonmembers.
And let me also say you may not walk up to the home of Glenn and Claire Fournier and ask to be seated.
I was lucky enough to be included in one of Glenn Fournier’s now-legendary shrimp boils in the Winter Park couple’s home. Fournier grew up in Louisiana where he learned and perfected the art of the shrimp boil.
A shrimp boil is not your typical feast, but a feast it is. It is an ideal party because almost everything is cooked in one pot, and there are few dishes to wash at the end of the evening — not even a serving platter.
Here’s how it works. Fournier sets a huge pot of water on a device he built that is connected to a propane tank. It fires up the pot of of water with a blast of fire that if it were turned on full-blast would probably launch the pot into sub orbit. Once it gets going, he drops in whole heads of garlic, onions, corn-on-the-cob, potatoes, sausages, peppers and, at the very last, shrimp.
And just a few minutes later, it’s all done and ready to eat.
Now here’s the fun part. All the food gets heaped in the center of the table, which has been layered with newspapers. Take a look at the photo and you’ll get an idea of what it looks like. This isn’t a photo of Fournier’s spread — I don’t think he’d ever do one with so little food!
And just as there is no serving platter, there are no plates or utensils. You just grab some shrimp and peel them with your fingers, making a pile of shrimp shells in front of you.
How easy is that? The hardest part is finding some newspapers. Just kidding.
So, now why am I telling you this? Because you can experience Fournier’s famous shrimp boil for yourself. While these feasts are usually reserved for a few honored guests, Fournier from time to time donates a shrimp boil for a charity auction. One is on the auction block at this Saturday’s(Oct. 25) 2008 Famous Faces Masquerade Ball benefiting Shepherd’s Hope. The fund-raiser will be at Loews Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Orlando and you can get details here.
The shrimp boil is for a party of 16 at your home or venue of your choice. If you plan on bidding for it, bring your checkbook — Fournier’s shrimp boils have been known to go for more than meals at restaurants prepared by professional chefs. You know, like the ones critics write about.

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