Symi Shrimp Story
Lights across the harbour reflecting in the water, the clank of wires against masts, the background chatter of content diners and a very pleasant meal out at Pantelis restaurant – that was Monday night. Not being much of one for fish and definitely not for shellfish, I opted for pork medallions in Roquefort cheese. Perfect. We were even able to hail Konstantinos and his taxi to take us back to the village afterwards.
The shellfish thing is a bit of a story, but before I tell it, I should point out that the taverna in question is no longer in existence, and I shan’t mention its name either. In 1996, I came to Symi for two weeks thanks to an overpaid mortgage insurance and a bargain with some now-defunct holiday company I can’t remember the same of. I stayed up at Lavinia, and all the details are in one of my books, but I can’t remember which one right now. One evening, I went for dinner at X Taverna and decided I ought to try the Symi shrimps. When I was little, and we lived by the sea at Littlestone, we’d go out with shrimp nets, catch shrimps and take them home for mother to deal with. We also had cockle and whelk sellers with trays and stalls along the seafront. I had no trouble with seafood back then. (Littlestone was clinging on to its former glory as an Edwardian seaside resort, but its fingers were slipping from the edge of the cliff. It’s the setting for Middlestone in my novel, ‘Remotely’.)
Dinner done, back to my apartment and later, off to bed – not late and without being wobbly on my legs, I should add. I woke up around three in the morning feeling a little unwell, and by the time I reached the bathroom, I was very unwell. I didn’t even have time to turn the light on so, when I finally crawled out, I was unnerved to find great red welts all over me, and I was sweating. Rehydrate was my first thought and I drank two litres of water and two Fanta lemons I happened to have in the fridge. Heading back to bed, I told myself I’d visit a doctor in the morning if the problem persisted, there was nothing I could do right then.
I woke up at half-seven to find myself free of blemishes, quite settled down below and feeling on top of the world, as if I’d been purged, which I reckon I had. All the same, I now can’t stand even the smell of shrimps which is why I tend to avoid the Symi shrimp festival. Thanks to an unfortunate incident with two oysters in Selfridges and a Dublin Bay prawn in Dublin, I now avoid anything in shells and don’t like the sea-taste of most fish. There you are, now you know. But… Everything coming out of Pantelis’ restaurant looked superb, and it’s highly recommended for seafood, and I can vouch for the meat dishes.