Entertaining Mistakes

It's your worst nightmare: intimate dinner or big splashy event, and something goes horribly wrong. The causes can be legion. The only known antidote: humor & quick thinking.

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250 shrimp do a disappearing act
Photo: Yasu & Junko

250 shrimp do a disappearing act

Who: Molly O’Neill, former New York Times Magazine food columnist and host of PBS’s Great Food. Her most recent cookbook is One Big Table: A Portrait of Modern American Cooking.

Result: Shells—sans shrimp.

I was cooking a dinner party for very much an A-list group of about 20 people in my New York City loft. I had 25 pounds of fabulous fresh shrimp, and I was doing a recipe that I was going to run in The Times. I juiced a little pineapple with some chiles and lime for a hot-and-sour marinade. Then, I grilled the marinated shrimp in their shells. As they were grilling, the shrimp themselves disappeared. They just shriveled away to nothing. All I had left were empty shells! (continued on next slide)

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