This afternoon I went into a bar and ordered a Caña (small beer). As is the case in many bars in Spain, the woman behind the bar also gave me some free tapas. The last time I visited the bar the tapas was a small portion of olives. The time before that it was a couple of slices of Brie and some Serrano ham. Today, she gave me two prawns on a plate. The prawns still had their shells on. I had no idea what to do. I’ve never learned how to eat this type of prawn tapas.
The first time I encountered a prawn tapas was around a year ago, in a bar in Granada. I had no idea what to do. I asked the man behind the bar if it was normal to eat the shell as well. He said it was not, but he didn’t offer any explanation about the correct way to peel the prawns. After a valiant struggle, I managed to nibble my way through the bodies and spit out the shells.
Eating the prawns was so difficult I knew I must be doing it wrong and hoped nobody was watching me. By the time I was through, all that was left on the plate was some pieces of shell and a couple of heads that seemed to be watching me with their beady eyes. The battle was over and my fingers stunk.
Today I looked at the portion of prawns and thought, “Okay, round two.” I told the woman this was a new tapas experience for me and asked if I needed to eat the shells.
The statement wasn’t strictly true. It was not a new experience and I already knew the score with the shells, but I was kind of hoping for a brief explanation of how to get the shells off, eat the prawn tapas and, hopefully, retain my dignity. She told me not to eat the shells. No further explanation was forthcoming.
In Granada, I’d beheaded the prawns, munched on the body and then spit out the shells. Today, I tried a different approach, armed myself with a cocktail stick, and used it to cut through the top of the shells. It was fiddly work, but I managed. Once again I was left with incredibly smelly fingers, a plate full of shells, two heads, and some beady-eyes.
When I got back to my room I did something I should have done a long time ago. I found a YouTube video that reveals the correct way to peel the shell from a prawn.
The person in the video makes it look easy. I’m hoping it is, but I won’t know until the next time I get a prawn tapas with my beer. Easy or not, there doesn’t seem to be a way to avoid getting smelly fingers, but at least the next time I encounter those beady-eyed terrors I should have a fighting chance of getting things right.
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