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Facing Down My Peel-and-Eat Phobia at The Freezer

Food-Phobia-585My parents live near Crystal River, Fla., and have been trying to get me to try a restaurant on the water called The Freezer for years. Every time they pushed it, I came up with an excuse — I’m not in the mood for seafood, or it’s too hot to sit outside, or, well, I just don’t want to go there. (I’m an only child; I can get away with that one.)
See, the thing they’re known for is peel-and-eat shrimp, and I’m … not a fan. I tried it once (like, 12 years ago), and the whole having to devein them right there as you’re eating them just turned me off. Mock me if you want, but it’s just not something I’m willing to deal with. Not even if the shrimp is really good.
“Oh, no!” my parents would say. “They’re already deveined! You just have to peel them!” Yeah, right, I thought. This is going to be just like the time my mom and I went to see Turner and Hooch and she guaranteed me that Hooch won’t die. (For the record, my fellow softies can get the answer to that for any movie they like here.)
Still, when my husband and I were down there a couple of days before Christmas, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and we all just wanted to be outdoors. We offered to take them to lunch, and, of course, they chose The Freezer. I acquiesced, partly because my parents told me there were also crab legs available, but mostly because, well, if you offer to take someone out to lunch, you kind of have to go where they want to go, right?
My parents had warned me that the place wasn’t much to look at, and they weren’t lying. But, it was 2 in the afternoon on a Monday and the place was packed, so I grabbed my bag full of courage (or, well, my purse full of cash since they don’t take credit) and followed them inside.
I ordered crab legs; Jared and my parents stuck to shrimp. When our orders arrived at our picnic table, we realized we might have over-ordered juuust a bit too much. There were piles and piles (and piles!) of shrimp, and I couldn’t imagine anyone could get through my order of crab legs, which came with a mallet rather than the nutcrackers I’ve seen in other restaurants. Get out any aggression and eat some seafood all in one fell swoop!
I happily stuck to my dish for a while, but after I’d mastered the art of using the mallet to inflict maximum cracking on the shell without messing up the crab meat inside (it took about 10 minutes, but then I was all-pro, baby), I took a look at the shrimp. Lo and behold, they actually were deveined. I helped myself to a few and was pleasantly surprised — they were delicious, and the peeling was nothing like I’d experienced on my last go ’round. It was so easy, and, well, not clean, exactly — we went through a lot of paper towels — but it wasn’t gross-dirty. Just, you know, food-dirty.
Just goes to show you that sometimes being adventurous, even when you’re absolutely certain you won’t like something, really does pay off! And, in case you were wondering, there was not a single bite left to take home. Festivus miracle or was the food just that good?
Have you ever let down your guard and tried a new food or restaurant, only to be enormously surprised? —Kristen

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