Seafood Pasta, Etiquette, and the Art of Dining Out

Lately there has been a lot of criticism of folks using their cell phones at the table which has been described extensively as anti-social behavior - these people are either being mocked for their attention to detail in taking artful Instagram pics of their meal (hint: the best angle is achieved if you stand up to get a bit of height), or looked down upon for staring at their phones instead of conversing courteously with their dinner companions.  

 Can we talk - about restaurant etiquette?
I myself may have scorned such behavior now and again, however, that's all in the past.  I know now that the quiet use of a cell phone during dinner is highly preferable to the shouting high decibel conversations of diners attempting to interact like walruses in a noisy restaurant. It's the very worst of table manners. This unchecked phenomena has become a dreaded but all too common occurrence. And it has virtually confined me to the home for meal eating. I am practically a hermit! I have come to dread going out to eat, especially wasting some good hard earned dollars that could have been much better spent on other things (shoes), because of the fear of getting jammed in a table between a couple of shrieking ninnies, and a table of guffawing buffoons.

Last week, I stuck my head out of my cave and ventured out to a former favorite restaurant with forgetful optimism. For a birthday treat, I was taken to Barbounia, on Park Avenue South, which serves pretty decent Mediterranean fare in attractive surroundings. Anyone who knows me, know that I love that type of food.


My dining companion and I only made it through the Taramasalata appetizer (FYI they need to invest in some sharper bread knives because the current ones don't actually cut the bread) before two gals were seated beside us and began shouting at each other at the top of their lungs, with very high pitched tonality that was impossible to ignore, much less speak over. It was so darned annoying that we could barely even enjoy our food - mine was a dish of linguine and seafood which, in my haste to depart, I barely touched.

So, here's my version of shrimp and pasta dish which you can eat quietly at home - staring at your cell phone while eating, optional. No judgements.



1 lb cleaned shrimp
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 thinly sliced onion
2 tblsp olive oil
1 can whole tomatoes
1 clove sliced garlic
handful olives, sliced (no pits)
1/4 cup corn
1 clove sliced garlic
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 tsp smoked Spanish Paprika
1 clove sliced garlic
fresh grated black pepper
1 tblspn cream cheese (optional!)
1 box Capellini pasta 

Put your water on to boil for the pasta.

Slice the mushrooms, and onion and saute until golden in olive oil.  Add the sliced garlic and lightly brown.
 Separate the canned tomatoes from the juice (reserve the tomato juice, about 1 cup) and chop - add to the onion mixture, cook for 3 - 4 minutes.

Season with the smoked Spanish Paprika, hot chili flakes, and add the olives.
Add the reserved tomato juice and the chicken bouillon and heat until simmering. Add corn kernels and olives. Add the broccoli and cover - steam for 2 - 3 minutes

Now cook the capellini pasta in the pot of boiling water (it only takes a 3-4 minutes)

Toss in the shrimp into your mix and cover - steam and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Taste and season to your liking... 

Serve piping hot!  You can add some freshly grated Parmesan although I think technically you're not supposed to serve seafood pasta with Parmesan - but do the old rules apply anymore?  Certainly not the rules of etiquette or manners, anyway.

“Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential.”

William Cuppy

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