A Shrimp By Any Other Name

"Camarón? You want to name your kid camarón?"
"No, ΄Amá, CAM-er-on. CAMeron. Can't you say it right?" Leave it to his mother to ruin the name he and his wife had carefully chosen for their unborn child.
She spit out the name.

"Ca-mah-RÓN . . . Ca-mah-RÓN? Why do you want to name your son after a shrimp? Because that's what a camarón is. Pónle Prudencio—call him Prudencio like my father. We can call him "Tencho" or "Prudi" for short.

Oh great, might as well start a fund for his therapy now, because, with a name like that, his kid was going to need it. Suddenly, he imagined his future offspring bearing an uncanny resemblance to "Kiko", that sniveling mama's boy and punching bag from El Chavo del Ocho on Spanish TV.
"Well, if you don't like Prudencio, name him Perfecto or Tiburcio like your Tío Tiburcio. How do you like Margarito or Florentino?"

"Like them? Why would I want a paisa* name for my kid? We're not living in the rancho anymore, you know."

"Are you're telling me that your abuelito's name's not good enough for you?"

"I didn't say that—."

"Ay sí, Meester George Looney—."

"It's Clooney."

"Clooney, Looney—a mi qué m'importa—what do I care. Ya que que eres muy matón—now that you're some Big Shot, you're not Maximiliano anymore—" Her voice then took on that of a goat's. "Your name is 'Maaaax.'" She lowered her head, but her eyes bore down on him with a gaze of stern maternal disapproval.

Suddenly she brightened up and remarked, "But that's okay, mi'jo, if you have a girl, you can name her Pachita like me." He groaned. She ignored him and proceeded to enumerate a laundry list of her favorite names: "Fidumina, Eufemia, Gertrudis, Marcaria, those are all beaut—"
"Ya párale, por favor—please stop already—." He held his breath for a second or two, for he knew that what he was about to say was about to go over as well as a stale tamale laying in the pit of one's gut.
"We have already decided on a name for a girl: Mackenzie. Arwen. Pérez."

"Ma-QUÉ??" With a look of complete shock, his mother put her hand over her mouth. She tried saying it again, but only a contortionist could have helped her wrap her tongue around "Mackenzie". As for "Arwen", she was slack-jawed and mute. Nowhere did she hear her own name as she had not so secretly hoped. "Camarón" was bad enough, but those nombrecitos—those ugly little names, "Makení" and "Aw΄"— ¡Uf! ¡Dios mío de mi vida!

"Mira," she held up her hands, and then proceeded to point a long finger in the general direction of his face. "You can name your son "Shrimp" if you want, but if it's a girl, I'm calling her Pachita! And if you don't like my paisa name, then don't eat my my paisa food. Sangron."

And with the bestowal of that heartfelt blessing, The Matriarch de la familia wiped her hands on her apron and swept out of the kitchen with the dignity of a battleship sailing out to sea. Siiting there alone as the day's cooking boiled over, her wayward son began to reflect on the error of his ways.

In the end, I'm happy to report that my friends decided to eat this Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, not name their son after one, thus averting the misfortune of being called Camarón for the rest of his life. Much to everyone's satisfaction, they named their baby Maximiliano after his father. He is the joy of his parents and the apple of their eyes.
But they call him Prudi for short. Well, at least his abuelita does.
*paisa--slang. An unsophisticated country bumpkin. Short for "paisano", or "countryman".
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
(Coctél de Camarón)

1 pound of uncooked shrimp; OR, 1 pound shrimp, precooked, shelled, tail and veins removed

1 8 ounce jar of clam juice; OR; shrimp stock (cooled)

1½ cups good quality ketchup (no off-brands)

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced

1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 lime, cut up
A squirt of Mexican-style bottled hot sauce or fresh chile salsa to taste

1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)

1 cup diced green onion, including stalks; OR, any mild onion, diced

1 cup fresh coarsely chopped cilantro
Dash of dried oregano to taste
½ to 1 cup water or shrimp stock(optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

If you decide to use uncooked shrimp, put them a large pot of wáter with salt, pepper, garlic, and cilantro or parsley. They cook up fast, so remove them as soon as the shrimp turns bright pink. Quickly submerge the shrimp in ice water. Save and chill the shrimp stock and use it instead of the clam juice and the water. Make sure to peel the shells and tails off the shrimp and remove the veins. Of course, you can always make it the "lazy way" using precooked shrimp. If you prefer a "watery" cocktail as I do, just add the ½--1 cup shrimp stock or water. Adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Rinse and drain the shrimp. Mix all ingredients, except the lime, in a large bowl and refrigerate for about one or two hours before serving. Add the avocados at the last minute. Serve with wedges of lime. This cocktail deserves to be served with salted corn tortilla strips that have been just cooked in hot oil—¡sabroso!
Serves 4 to 5 people.


julie said...

this is hilarious!!! i love it! the shrimp looks good too!

Leslie Limon said...

I love that story! You should write a book. I think most of us American/Mexicans and Mexican/Americans can relate! My suegro insists on calling my daughter Hope Nicole...Chimoltrufia! Saludos!

Clementina said...

Dear Julie and Chimoltrufia's Mama,
This story is based on an actual conversation I overheard years ago. Needless to say, the name "Cameron" went right out the window as soon as the parents-to-be learned that it pays to be bilingual.
Chimoltrufia? That's what my suegra used to call one of my nieces (!), although I think I would call her Esperanza, a very beautiful name.
Glad you liked the post!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the story and the shrimp looks fabulous! Excellent recipe!

Live.Love.Eat said...

Very cute story. And awesome looking shrimp cocktail. Thank you so much for stopping by and saying hello. I actually posted that shrimp cocktail a long time ago.

Our fav food is Mexican and we have a very authentic one a couple of miles from the house we enjoy frequently but I do try to make some at home once in a blue moon. I look forward to looking around your blog more!!!!

Clementina said...

Hola, Live. Love. Eat!
Welcome to my Little ole blog. I hope you'll like what you see!

Chef E said...

Great read, and a great plate/bowl of goodness here, as I eat some chips, and wish I had this with it...

Clementina said...

Hola, Chef E!
I really enjoyed your post on seafood. Yes, I agree, it is better to buy local if you can.
Have you ever had had Striper, which is native to Vietnam? It is a white mild fish that is not at all smelly--I mean NOT a solitary bit. I fry it all the time and my husband isn't even aware that I am cooking fish.
Happy eating!

cindylu said...

I've been totally craving a good coctel de camarón lately. I'd make some, but I'm out of all the vegetables that make it so yummy.

Also, I love the story. I know my parents chose names that sounded good in English and Spanish. I trip out on kids named Mackenzie Perez. It's weird to me.

Clementina said...

Hola, Cindylu!
Yes "Mackenzie Perez" does sound weird. That is not to say that all Celtic-Gaelic-Anglo-Saxon-Etc. names sound bad with Spanish names.
Names like Vanessa and Clarissa, both proper English names, come to mind.
Still, I wouldn't trade my paisa name for anything in world.
In the end, parents can name their children what they want, even trendy names that their relatives can't pronounce. They just have to be willing to live with the consequences.
Hurry up and have the shrimp cocktail before summer ends!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a wonderful dish! Great flavors, yummy!



Gera @ SweetsFoods said...

I adore the coctél de camarónes mmmmm totally delectable! Craving for my dinner right now :)
Thanks for stopping by at my blog!



kobico said...

"Yes "Mackenzie Perez" does sound weird. That is not to say that all Celtic-Gaelic-Anglo-Saxon-Etc. names sound bad with Spanish names."
My ethnicity is Japanese, but my given name is Celtic in origin, so they don't "match" very well. It is interesting to see how people react when they meet me having only known me by my first name and never having seen a photo. By the way, my grandmother never did learn to pronounce my name correctly!

Clementina said...

Hola, Kobico!
It's funny you should say that, because just the other day I was thinking about two of my very favortie names: Midori and Akemi, Japanese names that are certainly beautiful and easy to pronounce (even by the grandmas).
Sometimes this cross pollination of given names yields some wonderful results!

Pearmama said...

Loved the story, too. My siblings and I laugh whenever we hear our mother talk about her family--Cuca, Chuchi, Fito, Negra, Weewee, China, Tuti, Maca etc. etc.

Weird names (and they are all real!)!!

Sometimes we are thankful for our *normal* names: Denise, Eric and Jennifer. I think this trend of Americanizing names steeps back a couple of generations. My grandparents (with the weird names) chose not to pass down family names. Now it's is my generation that we've decided to give the names some ethnic flair. Case in point, my daughter Xiomara. Imagine my Xiomara, sitting in a classroom full of Morgan's and Chase's.


Clementina said...

Hola, Pearmama!
Xiomara is a great name. My husband likes Xotchitl (sic?), but I nixed it. People have a terrible time pronouncing our last name, and if the first name is hard to pronounce, then can you imagine our daughter (if we had had one) having to spend the rest of her life having to explain both of her names?

K said...

I love your blog! I am new but i am catching up. Good story, I have the same issue, but with my husband. He wants an italian name, not even American or Mexican. I can sure relate.

Clementina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clementina said...

Hola, K!
I think that any name is fine as long as it is relatively easy to pronounce (especially by grandmas)and has a Spanish or English or Italian equivalent.
An Italian name? Not bad at all. Many Italian names are also Spanish Just think, would Mr. de Caprio be THE Mr. de Caprio if his name was Leonard and not "Leonardo"?
Whatever beautiful name you choose, it certainly will not be cookie cutter.

New Mommy said...

That was so fun to read! I am sending your post to my brother whose son happens to be named Cameron, LOL.

Clementina said...

So his son's name is Cameron??? Well, okaaaaay.
I'm sure little Cameron is a cute kid.

prashant said...

love that story! You should write a book. I think most of us American/Mexicans and Mexican/Americans can relate!

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Clementina said...

Thank you for the compliment, Prashant!

Lorena said...

Hey Clementina, I laughed so hard about that Cameron name. We live in Mormon country. The Mormons like to name their kids names that start with B after Brigham Young one of their leaders.They have lots of kids, so I'm guessing they run out of possibilities. Names I have seen;a boy named Breck(shampoo) a girl named Brie(cheese)I also know some Anglos who named their kid Colby but so far no Cheddar's yet

Clementina said...

Hola, Lorena!
I suppose that sometimes people anme their children by a last name, whether it's the mother's maiden name, etc.
As for names like Camaron, it's done very inadvertantly when the parent doesn't know espanol. Pobrecitos.

Sra. López said...

Your writing is FANTASTIC. Gosh, I loved this so much. Funniest thing I've read all week! (BTW, my husband's father's name was Maximiliano and we used it as a middle name for one of our sons.)

Clementina said...

Hola, Maximiliano's Mom,
I must say, your taste in names is excelente! And BTW, I've read your blog. Very entertaining and thought provoking. come visit again.