Oh, Publix! You have always been my favorite Florida grocery store – clean, well stocked, great bakery and wonderful deli.
Your seafood department? Not so much.
We arrived in Orlando with just hours to spare before Christmas Eve company was due to arrive. I preordered trays to make entertaining easier, so off we went to Publix to pick them up. Even on what must have been a busy day, the deli counter was quick to retrieve our order, and in literally minutes, we were on our way through the rest of the store to see what we could find.
Jim saw a refrigerator section of premade shrimp rings, and knowing there was no way we had time to clean and cook shrimp, it seemed like a good alternative. But I’ve always been leary of those rings. Where did those shrimp come from? Were they turning bad, so they cook them and give you strong cocktail sauce so you can’t taste the botulism or salmonella you’re going to have?
I walked over to the seafood counter and asked the gentleman working there if there was a difference between the already cooked shrimp he had behind the counter and the premade ring. He told me the ones he had behind the counter were cooked, then frozen, then thawed to sell. Blech. The ring shrimp, though, never frozen according to the counter guy. Fresh as a baby’s behind. Sounds like the way to go, no?
And then I get back to the hotel. I opened the shrimp ring, and find a frozen shrimp tire – solid, stiff, and in the lovely circular shape it had been packed into before being frozen. In a bit of a panic, I put the ring under the cold running water, and hope I can get it thawed in the next 20 minutes, before company is due to arrive. Once it’s feeling like I can serve it, I dry it off, put it on a platter, and bring it over to the dining room table. I notice it’s looking a bit freezer burned – a little too white on the edges – but I didn’t have time to taste them before guests arrived.
But then I did. Blech.
Publix premade shrimp ring was so gross. The shrimp was mealy in parts, rock hard in others. I’m pretty sure I can taste ptomaine poisoning (and I’m pretty impressed I remembered how to spell ptomaine) when I eat the one shrimp I tried. The big problem now? How do I inconspicuously remove them from the table?
I rely on the fact that there was an expiration date on them, and hold fast to the believe that no one will really die from them. I leave them on the table, and hope if anyone does taste them, they won’t go back for more, and they’ll forgive me for even thinking they would work.
We’ll still rely on Publix for our shopping when we go to Florida, but these shrimp were really unforgivable. We probably won’t buy Publix seafood for a long time.