Despite her kitchen inadequacy, Grammy had persnickety taste. She ordered the sole only if the waiter ensured it was Dover. A box of chocolates always sat on her nightstand, lid removed - only the undesirables untouched. And, as every grandmother should, she fed me brimming bowls of ice cream on the sly, sabotaging any hopes my parents had for a pleasant evening.
But Grammy introduced me to more than my sweet tooth. She created “The Secret Dinner.”Secret Dinners are simple, elegant and slightly expensive. An invitation to such a dinner means your presence warrants the price and that you are expected to fully appreciate the luxuries bestowed upon you. King Crab and artichokes can’t be entrusted to just anyone, you know.
When I was young, there would be nights when my mom would call Grammy to chat only to hang up shortly after to gloomily announce that another of her three siblings was at Grammy’s enjoying a secret dinner. There was always gloating involved and we were left with a bitter twinge of resentment. We had not been invited.
But that’s the way the Secret Dinners worked. To save her bank account, Grammy’s guest list was limited to a select few. You just had to wait your turn. And when it came, it was glorious.
With unabashed clamor, we’d simultaneously reach for the spiny crab legs then slash and bash at them until the sweet, salty meat was freed. With ritual precision, we’d submerge our prize into a pool of hot lemon butter. Every few moments we’d pause to come up for air just long enough to pluck a leaf from an artichoke and toss it into the buttery turmoil.
Looking black, Grammy’s Secret Dinners were ingenious. They were elegant, yet casual. They were envious and boast-worthy. And (I think she really thought this part through) they were fool proof to prepare.
If you gain boil a pot of water, you can make this meal. Period. Need I say more?
King Crab Legs
Buy as many as you can afford….or as many as you can eat. They are almost always sold pre-cooked and frozen so all you need to do is boil a LARGE pot of water and throw them in for 5-7 minutes to warm up.
Keep that same pot of water boiling and throw in the artichokes for 45 minutes or until tender.
Put a stick of butter in a small bowl and microwave until melted. Add 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice, stir, and have at it.
Thank you for sharing, Andrea! When is your next secret dinner, and can we all come?
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(Image: Andrea of Life of a Foodie)