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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

The Continuing Adventures of Shark Boy

July 6, 2016

Shark Week is only a few days away.

I don’t watch Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, yet I know it’s coming soon because there’s an advertisement for it every 10 minutes on my television.

Even though I’ve never seen it, it’s easy for me to imagine what Shark Week entails— a lot of underwater nature shows with men and women in steel cages and big sharks eating big fish and almost— but not quite— getting to the man or woman in the cage. I think one 30-minute show using that premise would suffice for the entire year. I certainly don’t need a full week.

I hate sharks.

I know to my core that the Big Guy upstairs made “all things bright and beautiful” and “all creatures great and small.” And I am certainly not one to tell the Almighty how to do his job, but it seems like he could have taken a little time off— or at least a short nap— when it came to creating a few of the creatures, namely poisonous snakes and sharks.

I am not privy to the overall master plan from the date of conception, and I certainly don’t assume to know more than the Creator of the heavens and the earth. I am just saying, had I been in charge— or at least retained in a small advisory capacity— I might have lobbied for a few more butterflies and owls and just skipped the poisonous snakes and sharks altogether.

I have never had an encounter with a live shark. I have seen a few in the ocean. I have caught a couple on occasion. I have even eaten smoked shark. I was almost attacked by a barracuda in 1978, but that’s another story for another column. For years I never knew from where this phobia came. Then I remembered going to the movie theatre when I was 14-years old.

Steven Spielberg is 100% to blame for my shark phobia. In the summer of 1975, the movie “Jaws” played all summer long at the Avanti Theatre in my hometown of Hattiesburg. Seriously, it was the only movie that played for two months and there was a line out in the street every night. I had to go. During the scene when the disembodied head pops out of the hole in the sunken boat, my friend Patti King had a full body convulsion of terror and hit me on the side of the head with the plaster cast from her broken leg. I now classify that as a shark-related injury.

In the movie Richard Dreyfuss had a line, and one that I am sure is repeated during Shark Week television shows every hour or so. Dreyfuss’ Matt Hooper said, “Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat… and that’s all.”

That line struck me last week when I was watching my 15-year old son devour an “afternoon snack.” He was making a huge smoothie with a bunch of protein powder and fruit while eating a banana with peanut butter and whipping up a batch of guacamole for avocado toast. Again, this was an afternoon snack.

The kid is 6’1” and 196 pounds of perfect eating machine. He eats six eggs and a couple of pieces of bacon every morning for breakfast, along with a mouthful of vitamins and supplements (which are almost as expensive as the food), and sometimes he’ll throw a bowl of oatmeal into the mix. He eats healthier than anyone in our family, but he also eats as much as the sum total of the other three of us combined.

It’s not all healthy mind you. I once saw him eat 14 pancakes with bacon and hash browns. At a steakhouse, he wants the biggest steak on the menu. Chateaubriand for two? Not when the shark boy is dining out. He’ll take one all for himself, medium rare, please. A large pizza is no match for the perfect eating machine. It’s an appetizer, a small beginning, and just a hint of what is about to be consumed.

All this and I only have one son.

I have a friend with four teenage boys and I don’t know how anyone gets anything done in that house. They must be in a feeding frenzy all of the time. Eat, eat, eat. The grocery bill has to be enormous.

I have pigeonholed money away for the Sharkboy’s college career, but I’m beginning to think that those college funds aren’t even close to being enough. His food bill will be more than his tuition, lodging, and books. I am going to have to take out a feeding loan at this rate. Is there a Pell Grant for sustenance?

Maybe Steven Spielberg has a college assistance program for teenage sharks.


Spicy Shrimp Dip

This can also be spread on miniature bread slices for canapés and finger sandwiches.

1 Tbl olive oil

3 /4 pound fresh shrimp, medium sized

2 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 /2 tsp blackening seasoning

1 /4 cup white wine.

1 /2  cup sour cream

1 /2 pound cream cheese, softened

1 /2 cup finely chopped celery

1 /4 cup minced red onion

1 /4 cup minced green onion

1 Tbl minced jalapeño

1 Tbl hot sauce

1 Tbl fresh lemon juice

1 /4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbl chopped parsley

1 tsp salt


Toss shrimp in the Old Bay and blackening seasoning.

Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, sauté shrimp until pink and cooked through. Remove shrimp from the pan and cool. Deglaze pan with white wine, using a rubber spatula to remove seasoning from the pan.

Place cream cheese into a mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Add wine and sour cream. Using the paddle attachment, beat until smooth.

Add cooled shrimp and remaining ingredients to the cream cheese mixture and mix until everything is well incorporated.


Yield: 1 quart

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