Romance & a Bench Seat & Grilled Shrimp & Vegetable Salad

What’s happened to romance? Well, for starters, we text instead of talk. Forget “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Today’s lovers share emoji and shorthand. Call me boring or old fashioned but ?♥U 123 lacks the intimacy of Mrs. Browning’s verse.

Next, when things get serious, we go overboard, often in very public ways. Hopeful husbands-to-be enlist all of their friends and family, hire the local high school band and a film crew to help them pop the question. Sure, these flash mob proposals are fun to watch. However, no matter how clever, the resulting video doesn’t have Lizzie BB’s soulful passion. Even if it does go viral.

If you want something or someone to blame for the sad state of romance, blame Detroit. That’s what I’m doing, Sure, the automobile industry has had and continues to have its troubles. Between the dull designs, gas guzzling engines and the faulty ignition switches, it’s not been easy. In time, the American public will probably forgive all. However, my sympathetic nature can only be stretched so far. There are some things beyond acceptance and killing off romance is one of them.

So how did Motor City start the death knell for romance?1962_land_rover

It all comes down to bucket seats. Yes, bucket seats. It dawned on me the other day while I was idling at a stoplight. In the old days, cars had bench seats. They were perfect for holding hands and watching the moon rise over the mountain. They were also perfect for smooching. Sure, bucket seats are comfy but between the gearshift, emergency brake and cup holders, you can’t even play footsie with your passenger. Attempting a hug could turn you into a pretzel or pull your back out.

If you are too young to remember kissing in the front seat of your father’s sedan or mother’s station wagon then it’s possible you were conceived on it. Those big benches weren’t just good for transporting a pile of kids; they helped make a few as well.

Although bucket seats originated in Europe, the last car I remember driving with a bench seat was a 1962 Land Rover. Although not an antique, it was close to ancient when it showed up in our driveway. Its top speed hovered around 40 mph, the brakes failed regularly and the heater barely worked. All those things were secondary. The Land Rover took me to work and everywhere else the summer between high school and college. Although noisy and a bumpy ride, it was a bit of a man magnet. I was never very sure if that summer’s love interest was more intrigued with the car or me.

Since the boyfriend’s vintage MG was in a thousand pieces on the floor of a nearby barn, the Land Rover was our ride for the summer. The bench seat was perfect for goodnight kisses. At least a couple of times, the evening farewell lasted long enough to arouse the suspicions of a patrolling police officer. No arrests were made so don’t go looking through old police reports.

As often happens, the romance cooled by Labor Day. The boyfriend and I headed off to our respective schools. Dad got tired of repairing the Land Rover’s brakes and sold it. As for the police patrols, I’m guessing they found plenty of other steamy windows to knock on.

Here’s to summer romance, bench seats and bon appétit!

Grilled Shrimp & Vegetable Salad with Salsa Verde
So what if you don’t have a nice, big bench seat in your car. You can always find a quiet spot for a romantic picnic and stargazing. Enjoy!
Serves 2 with leftover veggies and Salsa Verde

3 cloves garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Sriracha to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh oregano, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons dry white wine
Olive oil
8-12 ounces extra-jumbo (16-20 per pound) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
1-2 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick
1 small eggplant, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1-2 thick slices red onion
1 red bell pepper
2 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 15 minutes
4-5 Kalamata olives, quartered
1 tablespoon capers, drained

Make the Salsa Verde: Put 2 cloves minced garlic, the juice of 1/2 lemon, vinegar and 1-2 drops sriracha in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Add the lemon zest, scallions and herbs and whisk again. Set aside.

Preheat the grill to high.

Put the remaining lemon juice, garlic, 1-2 drops sriracha, the white wine and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp, sprinkle with herbs de Provence, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Tossing 2-3 times, marinate the shrimp for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables until tender or tender-crisp, about 3 minutes per side for the eggplant and pepper and about 2 minutes per side for the zucchini and onion.

Thread the shrimp on to the skewers and grill, turning once, until just opaque, 1-2 minutes per side.

To serve: roughly chop the vegetables and spoon onto individual plates, top with shrimp, sprinkle with olives and capers and drizzle with a little salsa verde. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Everything can be made ahead, covered and stored separately in the in the refrigerator.
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One Year Ago – Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard
Two Years Ago – Grilled Tomato Crostini
Three Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Four Years Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Five Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Six Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Seven Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate the long holiday weekendt? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

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2 thoughts on “Romance & a Bench Seat & Grilled Shrimp & Vegetable Salad

    • Laura – Hope you are having a great summer. My favorite Land Rover story was careening through town without any brakes … circling the service station until I was finally able to coast to a stop. I left it in the middle of a parking lot, walked back to the garage and handed the keys over to the mechanic. Have fun – S.

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