#38 Shrimp Festival - Golconda, IL - September 18, 2010
You might be wondering if that is shrimp on a perfectly good nacho, and the answer would be yes. I'm not sure who or why someone thought this was a good idea, but there is a reason this is the first time I've seen this combination. It's not that it was bad, but it just didn't make any sense either. I ended up eating the nachos first and then eating the then cheesy shrimp. The creativity though was duly noted.
The classic fried shrimp. There really isn't a way to mess up this dish, and I was certainly happy with this. Along with the perfectly GBD shrimp was something called a sweet tomato. It was crinkle cut and looked like s half tomato half pickle frankenfruit. It tasted like a very mild pickle with a crisp texture which ended up being a good contrast to the sweet thimble o' cocktail sauce.
There wasn't really any other strange concoctions, so I went ahead and got the shrimp on a stick. I have previously bemoaned terribly cooked and handled seafood in the past, but this was excellent. They understood that people are willing to wait the 2 minutes to cook shrimp, and perfectly grilled this skewer. I will happily attest that these shrimp were cooked perfectly, and the scampi style was pretty decent too.
Now when I first came to this festival, I was greeted by a line of motorcycles. My mind immediately raced back to my previous misadventures with motorcycle rallies. Don't get me wrong, bikers are by and far great people, but it's kinda like looking into a cow's eye. They look nice and calm, but you can tell their animal instinct could kick in at anytime.
Golconda, Illinois is set atop the Ohio River along the Kentucky border. This festival was fairly tame when it came to the strange, but it did offer helicopter rides. Now I have done a tethered hot air balloon ride, but I just couldn't trust a helicopter pilot that needed the money from a Shrimp festival to fly me around.
Festive Trinket of the Week: Maybe not one of my strangest buys, but I've always enjoyed mancala and don't have a set. That, and the price was right at $2. Heck, you don't even need the board to play; in ancient times people simply dug the holes into the ground and played with stones.
Video of the Week: The video I had didn't reflect the humor I had intended. Thus, here is a shrimp on a treadmill set to the music of the Benny Hill Show. Solid. If you watch the whole thing I might be worried about you.
Now you may be wondering why the heck is there a shrimp festival in the middle of the country? Well, turns out that Golconda is a burgeoning freshwater shrimp farming hub. Apparently the shrimp at this festival was raised right here in Golconda, which made me feel better about eating shrimp in Southern Illinois (Kind of). Golconda was a nice host, but my favorite Golconda fun fact may be that it has no signal lights and only one four-way stop (almost impossibly true).
Now loyal readers know this is an educational blog at its roots, so here is all the information you may ever want to know about shrimp (even told through the oral tradition). Or maybe you would like to go shrimping on your own and catch a fresh batch, well Jethro is way ahead of you. Now I know that some people may no longer be able to say the word "shrimp" without thinking of Bubba Gump. Can you name all the ways Bubba can cook shrimp? The first thing that actually came to my mind was actually a prawn. Here is my boy, Pepe the Prawn, telling a fairly solid joke with an elephant buddy. As we have seen shrimp can be funny, but did you know they can also be deadly? This pistol shrimp kind of creeps me out. Make sure you watch the first video as well, I'm not sure how much sound is added and how much is real. Heck, you don't even have to be around the water to be in shrimp danger, just ask this lady what flying shrimp at the local Benihana can do.
Shrimp are an extremely versatile food, and one that almost everyone enjoys (except for those that are shellfish intolerant). If you ever find yourself with a bunch of shrimp and no ideas, make sure you try the horseradish shrimp recipe on the left side of the page (my first award winner). The Golconda Shrimp festival is pretty fun, if a little on the normal side (if that's a bad thing). Maybe it needed a mascot or a someone in a silly shrimp costume. Either way the food was good, the sky was blue and the travel smooth. Another success on the festival circuit.
EDIT: Festive Friend Imron added some great information regarding Golconda in the comment section that I felt should be included in the post:
"Also, did you investigate the claim that the name Golconda (which is pretty unique) actually comes from India? Golconda, India (right by Hyderabad and the Fort is still there), was apparently one of the regional capitals from 1512 to 1687. It is likely the Illinois town was a throwback to the earlier Indian era, since it was named as a regional capital within Illinois in 1817, at a time when interest in India was the vogue because of expanding English rule there."