Shrimp, Grits, & Long Distance Friendships

In my last blog post I shared just a bit about my move to Washington D.C. (if you haven’t already read it, you should as it sets the stage for this post).  After a stressful arrival and a way-too-emotional-for-comfort send-off, I walked up into my new apartment to meet my three other apartment-mates.  When I opened the door, I was surprised to see two new faces.  When I’d been to the apartment earlier in the day I had met the gruff girl I’d be sharing my little room with as well as a girl who came all the way from India.  As it turns out, after unpacking her belongings, the Indian girl I’d met realized she was in the wrong room and had to re-pack and move upstairs.  Hannah moved in filling the vacancy in the apartment.

I met Hannah my first day in the capital where I also met Frieda, a fabulous adventure-seeking girl from New York City who in her humble nonchalant way broke the ice on that first day of our stay with stories of her travels.  Initially the four of us got along famously but eventually the fearsome foursome of room 201 dissolved.  While we had originally decided to share cooking, cleaning, and shopping responsibilities amongst the four of us, things didn’t work out that way as the semester progressed.  Thank goodness for Hannah because without her quirky optimism, fabulous advice and friendship, I doubt I could have made it to the end of the semester all in one piece.

We bonded over mutual complaints, shared dislikes (ranging from cold weather to rush hour on the metro), our passive-aggressive and semi-introverted natures and our love of food (among many, many other things).  When our respective roommates were less-then-enthusiastic about sharing cooking and shopping responsibilities, Hannah and I teamed up.  The poor thing had to put up with my cooking/grocery-obsessed self as I instituted ‘Meal Planning Saturdays’, dragged her to various farmers markets, and had her try all kinds of new foods.  What a good sport!

She in turn introduced me to all kinds of new and exciting Southern foods whilst doing her best to expose me to celebrity fandom and late-night TV.   She is the reason I got to stand merely 10 feet away from the president and his wife in their own backyard and watch Bobby Flay cook on the White House’s South Lawn overlooking the Washington monument (Dreams do come true).

While some of our apartment-mates (and by that I am thinking of one in particular) were difficult to live with, Hannah made it all worth it.  I never had a friend who I would see quite as frequently and who understood, cared and shared with me quite so openly.  I can literally tell her anything and know that she will listen to whatever I have to say and just be there for me.

Unfortunately after a few short months of building our friendship, the program we were enrolled in came to an end and we each had to move back to our respective states.  Evan and I helped her pack and settle into her train at Union Station bound for South Carolina before we started on our drive back to New Jersey.  It was so sad to see her go, I had made so many memories with her and felt as if a piece of me boarded that train with her.  I had made good friends in the past only to loose touch and eventually move on but I knew that in Hannah I had found something special.

More then a year later, we’ve still kept in touch by calling as regularly as our busy schedules allow and when we get to visit each other.  Last Fall I was lucky to be able to visit my long-distance friend for an amazing few days.  She brought me to Charleston, SC where I finally got a chance to try all the great southern foods she’d told me about while we were in D.C.. I feasted on boiled peanuts (for those of you who haven’t tried them, they are similar to edamame), fabulously creamy and delicious shrimp and grits, fried okra and oh-so-much-more.

On a high from a recent (and much needed) phone date, I decided to try and make shrimp and grits with the stone ground grits Hannah brought me from Woods Corn Mill when she visited this past Spring. I used an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and could not have been happier with the results.  From the first bite I was taken back to my time in South Carolina, sitting next to one of the best friends I will ever have.  I think the actual meal itself metaphorically represents our friendship in more ways than one.

The dish is warm and comforting with a dash of spice to keep it exciting.  It’s humble with an undeniably stubble flare and just the thought of it makes me smile.

Now my friends, feast your eyes on the beauty of this fabulous meal (it tasted even better than it looked)!

shrimpandgrits

Do you have a favorite food that reminds you of a special person or time in your life?  Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear all about it!

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