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Happy Birthday Shrimp Scampi to my Best Friend. The Woman I Call Madre

My mother loves shrimp. So much she’s nicknamed my good friend Dave “Besos y Camarones” — kisses and shrimp. Really. And he just eats it up.

Today is Mami’s birthday!! And I’m soooo excited. Why the excitement? This year in particular has brought some drama to our family. Eh, the last 6 months, actually. A lot of it is augmented because of our loud and explosive Cuban nature. You can only imagine how that goes. For that (and more) she deserves to be treated today with some regality and deliciousness!

Regardless of how bad and emotional things have been recently, Mami has stood her ground and held our family down. She’s personified strength, willed character, unparalleled love, patience and joy. She’s never lost her cool.

If you know Mami, then you know I could easily write a novela chockfull of her amazing doings and actions, mostly for everyone around her, stranger or friend, sometimes even foe; and my obsession with her. I’m totally obsessed with my mother.

But it’s her funnies that equally capture everyone’s attention. That 4’11” little woman is funny. Her Englishisms are unique and deserve to be featured on Ellen. There are way too many to tell and I can’t even think of my top 5. One for sure is her “Selfish” when she means “Shellfish.” No lie. Every time. Doesn’t sound like it’s all that bad, right. It’s the added thick accent, that makes it even better.

You can hear it, can’t you??

Proof? Here’s a text my sis just sent me.

Oh, my sis nailed it. She sent an even better one about 10 minutes later, but Papi would curse me out if I shared. Just think of peanuts.
There is no irony I’m sharing a shrimp scampi recipe.  It’s her favorite SHELLFISH. Well, that and lobster, too.
My mother has an amazing joi de vivre — one I pray to have, like now! See this lovely picture below of her and me in front of the Eiffel Tower? Well, there’s a really funny story which explains her gut wrenching and robust laughter. I’ll spare you the details and just say we were royally scammed and totally bamboozled by Paris’ finest street peddlers.

Yup. Major scam.  Jajajaja.

This is Mami circa 1972 in playa Varadero in Havana. Isn’t she gorgeous? And look at those curves.

If only I….

Since I couldn’t go home today to celebrate her cumplis, which I’m selfishly bummed about b/c we celebrate birthdays in a major way in our family (remember the Mariachi band surprise last year?), I decided to gift her with a virtual meal. Shrimp scampi. She loves her some camarones and even though I don’t eat them, she’d appreciate that I made this for her… Someone else enjoyed it for lunch, but trust she’ll be calling me within minutes of this being published telling me “¡que atrevida eres. Como vas a cocinar camarones sin decirmey y encima de eso, enseñarme fotos. Preocura hacerme este mismo plato cuando vengas!

She loves garlic, tons of butter, sometimes really spicy and citrusy food. Italian. Yeah. That’s what she loves most. This has all of it. It sang “Happy Birthday” to her as I cooked it.

I added some crushed red pepper flakes for some heat. She’d love that. Actually, if I  were home cooking this, she’d tell me exactly what to put in it and for sure the peppery stuff would part of her list. I also added a sweet white wine because she’s an addict of sorts of all sweetness. Normally, I’d use a dry white but since she’s a fan of Moscato (way too sweet and inappropriate for this), I used a Riesling. I had considered some cumin (b/c cumin on shrimp is really, really meaty), but, nah… would be too much. I kept it simple but did add some greens for color, a bit of earthy sweetness and because she loves parsley and scallions.

I can’t tell you what the final sauce tasted like, though I have a solid idea. I tasted it in my head and could smell it as it permeated into my dressing room — forgot to close the door. Fishy smell. My anxiously waiting friend was making me nervous as he stood at my kitchen doorway asking me when it was going to be done. No patience. I hate that. Dirty dishes is what I was left with.

So, Mami, from me to you, un plato de una libra entera de camarones! Pa’ ti! I love you to itty, bitty pieces and so thankful for your amazingness!

Oh, and for teaching me how to cook really good food.

¡Feliz cumpleaños, BELLA MADRE MIA¡ 🙂



Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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  • 1 pack of linguine
  • 1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and divined
  • 1 cup sweet white wine, like Riesling
  • 2 lemons
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • salt to taste
  • parsley and green onion for garnish


In large sauce pan, add butter and olive oil and sautée garlic, onion and red pepper on medium heat.  Allow onion to become translucent, making sure not to brown your butter. Stir once or twice with wooden spoon. This should take about 4 minutes. Add shrimp, squeeze lemon and stir in cup a sweet wine. Stir and let cook for 10 minutes until shrimp is pink. Cook pasta while shrimp goodness is cooking.  Add capers to shrimp sauce, reduce heat and let cook for 5 more minutes. Add pasta to shrimp sauce and toss in sauce pan. Add parsley and green onion to pan if you like or reserve for garnish.

Serves 4-6

0 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Shrimp Scampi to my Best Friend. The Woman I Call Madre

  1. Felicidades to your beautiful mami! My Cuban mami is guilty of english butchery too…she says u-hoo which means u-haul! hahaha I love it! The recipe looks delish!

  2. While I don’t eat marine life I know the hubs would love this hes big on shrimp with pastas. His latest favorite is from TGIFridays perhaps this could be a dinner item for fathers day 🙂

  3. Oooo… I remember back pre-vegetarianism the hubster made me a dish that resembled this one and it was so good! Yours looks like one of the few dishes that he would make. I wonder if I could substitute the shrimp for tofu?

  4. Catalina: Thank you so much! love the u-hoo!! i have so many that make me peepee !LOL!

    Rosa: Thanks, luvy

    Ruby: oh wow… didn’t know that. Love learning new facts. Have him make it for you for sure.

    Lisa: Great!

    Patti: You may, but it’ll naturally taste different. Not as meaty.

  5. A beautiful tribute to Mami! She looks so cute and bubbly, which are just a couple of the beautiful traits you gained from her. Here’s hoping she enjoys her personal holiday!

  6. I think I’ve been following your blog for about 3 years now and although there have been changes here (and in your life that you’ve shared with us), one thing has always been consistent and that is your love for your family. I feel like I know them so … muchas felicidades a ti, Mami, y que te cumples muchos mas.

  7. The Duo Dishes: Thanks! She deserves it and so much more. This was the least I could do. You’re too kind.

    CJ: Thanks!! 🙂 That makes me smile.

    Jehan: Thanks and to you and yours as well.

    Ericka: Thank you! You, too! Eat well.

    Joan: You’re so right. You have been there for a while and you don’t even know how much a gal like me appreciates it! You and a handful have been there throughout the changes, stories and even some growing pains 🙂 Happy and lovely Mother’s Day to you! xo

  8. ¡si delicioso y muy rico! Es mi favorito plato y gracias le doy a la vida por tener hijos tan maravillosos. Y una personita en especial que siempre piensa en Mami y hace mi vida tan linda y llevadera. Gracias por ser mi hija y gracias por esa comida tan deliciosa que hiciste para mi. De todos modos cuando vengas me lo cocinas! Gracias mi amor que Dios te bendiga por ser la hija que eres. Gracias a todos que me dejaron mensajes tan bonitos. Se los agradezco. Love mami.

  9. Your momma …I, I mean, those shrimp look delicious!

    From a male point of view…shrimp are not like top sirloin or old Virginia salted cured ham… shrimp are how women refine men you see.

    Unlike a large chunk of moist, slightly charred yet bloody flesh that is beef, steak or the like….shrimp require far less melodramatic extremes. For centuries women have been using subtle tricks of perfume and batted eyelashes to allure men. They have used the nape of their neck and the glint of an elbow for draw men into line. And they manage, millennia later, to no lesser seduction, the ability to wrangle their manfolk into the wealth of saladom using nothing more than the tiniest of carnivorous sensuality….the shrimp.

    Way to go ladies. Youve tease.

  10. You mom looks like she has such a bubbly spirit. I think you should name the recipi Mama Camaron Con Salsa de la Vida:) I’m totally into shrimp too and the pictures are making me droooollll…!

  11. What a sweet post to your Mami! She must be so proud of you! And this shrimp scampi looks gorgeous. Love the colors and flavors in the dish and I can almost taste it from your vibrant photography! Happy Mother’s Day to your wonderful Mami!

  12. Your mom is so great! She seems so full of life and I can see why you are the strong and creative woman that you are. Happy birthday to your beautiful mom! Your ‘obsession’ for her makes me want to love my mother a little more.

  13. Such a nice post Bren…Happy belated birthday to your mom 🙂
    Your shrimp scampi looks great, really packed with flavor, and as always, great pictures.
    Hope you are having a fabulous week!

  14. Yumm. I love shrimp Scampi. You are blessed to have your Mother still with you . Mine lives on with me through my cooking. I hope she had an amazing birthday surrounded by love
    and family.

  15. Really darling post Bren. Your mami is adorable both now and then…
    The dish sounds nice, balanced, pretty, tasty.
    Happy Belated Birthday Mami!

  16. I love the relationship you have with your mother! I miss mine terribly. Thanks for always sharing colorful stories with us.

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