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  1. A friend asked my wife, "Marion, do you cook gourmet food every night?" She answered, "Of Course not. Well, maybe sometimes. Yes. No. I don't know. I guess so. Occasionally." Obviously, it was a crazy question, and one for which Marion had no ready answer. If she had one, then I would have no reason to write this article. I'm Pete, the guy she's been hanging around with lately, and I'm here to answer that question for her, in order to explain how Marion cooks. I've been eating her meals for 45 years, so I should know. First I should explain one thing. She makes mistakes. She makes errors. She makes whopping blunders. She makes flippin' disasters. It's as they say about boating in the Marco Island area. If you haven't run aground, then you're either lying or your boat is in dry dock. It's the same with cooking. If you're going try new ideas, if you're going to experiment, you're going to make some mistakes. You may even make a whopper or two. And to that I say, great! I want to have dinner at your house, because I know that I'm not going to get something made with canned cream of mushroom soup and crumbled fried onion rings on top. I enjoy experimenting as much as Marion does. We had some nice shrimp in the freezer and decided that was what we wanted for dinner. Then came the question of how do we fix them? None of the old standby recipes seemed to appeal to us. Since we also had a plantain on hand, we thought we'd try something with a Cuban flair. At this point, we started planning the menu and here I have to digress a bit. Think of some of the really fine restaurants where you've enjoyed your meal. Remember what the salad was like, how it was served. Think of your entree, the colors, the tastes, the contrasts. How about the dessert? I'll make you a bet that your dinner plate was a pleasure to the eye. I'll bet anything that there was a variety of colors, and tastes. If your main dish was spicy, perhaps there was a vegetable that was bland in flavor. The same is true about texture. There would have been something somewhat crisp, something tender and something which required a bit of chewing. Variation is the key to a great meal. There is nothing more boring than to sit down to the table where everything on your plate is the same color, or to face a dinner consisting of three soft casserole dishes. Individually, these may be great, but taken together they're a bore. Food needs contrast in color, texture, taste and temperature. So let's get back to that shrimp dinner we were discussing, the one with the Cuban touch. Try this menu. Shrimps in Spicy Sauce Vaqueros y Indios (Red beans and rice) Tostones (Plantains) Fresh Salad Limon Sorbet Espresso Boy, does that sound impressive. It's not, though. The meal is a piece of cake to prepare, providing you've got the ingredients on hand, and they're all readily available at any supermarket. The toughest job is cleaning and deveining the shrimp, but even they can be bought frozen and ready for the pot if you've no time for the preparation. These recipes are for two people only. Submitted By SAM LEFKOWITZ On 11-29-95


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