I can’t believe it was already 80 degrees before 9 a.m. this morning. I mean, I’ve lived in Virginia for decades, so it shouldn’t surprise me, but the first heat wave of the summer always does.
This kind of weather makes me want to let my wet hair air dry, to put on sleeveless shirts and press my face into the air conditioner. It also makes me dream of the beach, but since I’m the type who has to sit under 70 SPF, a wide hat and an umbrella at the beach, I spend a lot of time dreaming about my next meal.
I’ll bet we all associate certain foods with fun beach vacations of the past. Seafood, certainly, but families all seem to have their own little food rituals when they go on vacation.
From my childhood vacations in Myrtle Beach with my best pal, Samantha, I remember the Pop-Tarts we got to eat for breakfast and the clam chowder I had to order at every restaurant, just to see if it was better than the last cup or bowl. Clam chowder is my favorite soup of all time, and it’s interesting to see how much it varies in consistency and flavor. I have never quite made up my mind whether I like bacon in clam chowder because it kind of takes away from the clam flavor, but I do know I prefer clam chowder at a medium thickness – not too watery or too thick.
From my childhood vacations to Chincoteague with my family, I have fond memories of all-you-can-eat steamed shrimp (a boy I dated had never had it before, and he ate the first one shell, legs and all). And then we used to sit out on the pier behind the hotel, at a picnic table covered with newspaper, and pick our way through a passel of steamed blue crabs, throwing the shells in the water for the seagulls.
As an adult, my beach vacations have been spent at the Outer Banks, where my in-laws live. Whenever we go to the beach there, we pack the cooler with BLTs and boiled peanuts, and snack on Cheetos and Pringles. I don’t like to drink beer on the beach – it gets hot too fast and makes me sleepy. But an ice cold Coca-Cola always hits the spot with salty boiled peanuts.
As an adult, I find myself reprising the beachy meals of my childhood, steaming shrimp and crabs for dinner and serving them with a new favorite of grilled potatoes and veggies. At night, after we’ve cleaned up the mess, we put on Andy Griffith DVDs (NOT color, ever!), eat Nutty Buddies, and then lay on the floor with our full tummies and “make floor art,” as my nutty buddy Mike calls it.
I’m sure some of you have already been to the beach once this season, and I hope to make it there myself later in the summer. What favorite foods do you associate with this hot, beachy weather?