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Shrimp Season is here!

It’s September, which means the start of the shrimping and fishing season here in Rocky Point, Mexico. Years ago – before the streets were paved – I remember eagerly awaiting this month so we could get those big blue shrimp Peñasco is so famous for and other seafood fresh off the boat. Today, fresh seafood is available every month of the year – even in May, June, July and August.

So what is with this rule that we shouldn’t eat shellfish in months that don’t contain an “r”? Well, it seems that in the warm summer months, the water is warmer which can cause a “red tide” which produces a vast amount of algae and toxins. Even when a red tide is not present, there is still more algae in the water which filter feeders such as oysters, mussels, scallops and clams suck up. We in turn eat the shellfish that have sucked up this algae and toxins and become sick. This is a known fact, but I have many friends who visit the oyster farms year round and have no gastro problems whatsoever. But then again I have a few friends who have become deathly ill after eating oysters in the summer months. I don’t know if it comes down to their stomachs or less algae and toxins in the shellfish. My mother has a cast-iron stomach and can eat anything – she even drinks the tap water here (which I do not recommend) so people like her are probably safe eating shellfish all year long while people like me with somewhat sensitive stomachs should avoid shellfish in May, June, July and August. And I am mainly talking about oysters and clams. Oysters I avoid all the time (way too slimy and icky), but I do like clams once in awhile. I have never had a problem eating shellfish in a restaurant during the summer and I have never had a problem with seafood I have purchased during these months. So, just be aware of the “r” rule and that shellfish in months without an “r” may not be the best to eat. I would hazard a guess and say that the oyster farmers know if their oysters are fit for eating and would not offer them to you if they are not fit for eating – that’s just bad business. The good news is that we don’t have to worry about that till next year!

Now is the time to head down to the fish market in Old Port to grab up some shrimp to enjoy while you’re here in Rocky Point or to take home with you. You can take fresh shrimp home with you so there are no worries crossing back into the U.S. Make sure you get what you pay for. Shrimp is usually sold by the kilo (2.2 lbs), though the vendors also deal in pounds. Buy your shrimp and seafood from reputable markets and vendors and be sure you are getting the amount you paid for. The easiest way to do this, like I said above, is go to someone you trust. If you have not purchased shrimp or seafood before then take something you know the weight of because sometimes the scales are not always accurate. For example if you want to purchase 5 lbs. of shrimp then take something that weighs 5 pounds. You can tell by holding both items if the weight is way off or pretty equal. You don’t want to get home and discover you only received 2 of your 5 lbs. of shrimp.

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