Americans love their shrimp. The U.S. harvests over 650 million pounds a year, more than any other country in the world. Yet still this is not enough shrimp to fill our shrimp cravings in America. The U.S. imports yet another 200 million pounds a year. Shrimp is not only very nutritious, it is the most popular shellfish in the United States. Thanks to shrimp farming, it is available for purchase at most grocers and available year-round. It is a popular ingredient in appetizers, salads, chowders, and, of course, as a main dish.
The word shrimp comes from the Middle English shrimpe, meaning "pygmy" or a reference to the crustacean itself. In the 7th century, shrimp and other seafood composed the majority of the Chinese diet, and still does today.
In 1280, Marco Polo commented on the abundance of seafood in Chinese marketplaces, including shrimp. Harvesting of shrimp dates back to the 17th century, where Louisiana bayou residents used seines up to 2,000 feet in circumference to scoop up the delicacy. Mechanized shrimping did not come about until after 1917.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company History
Shrimp has been popular for many decades in the US, but the release of the 1994 movie "Forrest Gump" brought a brand new fondness for shrimp given the fictional story of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in the film. It also inspired a very popular eatery of the same name that is still in business today. In the film, Forrest Gump, the main character played by Tom Hanks, befriended Private Benjamin Buford Blue, a character played by Michael T. (Mykelti) Williamson. "Bubba," as Williamson's character was nicknamed, talked about shrimp throughout their friendship in the army. Bubba was killed in the war, but Forrest Gump carried on his legacy by becoming a shrimping boat captain. He was unsuccessful until a mighty storm, brought on by Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise, utters the famous line, "Where in the hell is this God of yours." Following the storm, "Jenny," Gump's boat, was the only shrimping boat left and he became extremely successful.
Shrimp and Grits History
When two seemingly unrelated foods get lumped together, such as is the case with shrimp and grits, it's normal to wonder how. It all started with Muskogee Native Americans using corn in a variety of ways for food. When their grits were mixed with the abundance of shrimp in the coastal areas of southern states in the US, such as Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Louisiana, the dish became a cheap and easy meal to make. Now it's seen on restaurant menus, in cookbooks and on family tables all over the US. The versatility of the dish has allowed it to have its own festival and cookbook.