I’ve never traveled anywhere really. Life has not yet afforded me the opportunity. So food has always been my passport of choice, either by pouring through cookbooks and online recipes, or sampling the most authentic dish I can find on the restaurant menu. But it was through friendships that I learned of ceviche; an Ecuadorian location scout I met while working craft services on a movie set, shared with me some he’d brought from home and I was immediately hooked. As a southern girl, that first bite was familiar, reminiscent of the pickled shrimp layered in giant glass mason jars and brought out for late summer BBQ’s, but the personality behind that initial taste was different, like the cousin you last saw when they were 3 years old, and now is surprisingly all grown up. Crisper and cleaner in it’s brininess due to the lime juice instead of the vinegar I was used to, verdant and fresh from the hand-torn leaves of cilantro, and a barely summer-sweet round acidity of tomato flavor that made the whole thing linger just a little longer on my tongue. I ate every bit he brought me, and drank the juice remaining, knowing when I got home I’d have to find a way to marry the distinct Ecuadorian flavors with the Old Bay southern shrimp pickle I’d always loved. It was as if it were meant to be, the recipe came together as if the flavors had always been there waiting for me to introduce them. It is now my go – to shrimp recipe, especially during the summer. Sometimes I even surprise my southern folks and serve it with popcorn instead of butter-baked saltine crackers, and after taking the leap of faith and trusting me, they’re shoveling in popcorn and shrimp bites with reckless abandon. And that’s probably my favorite part, watching the welcoming of new flavors and the start of new food traditions. Doing that is how I travel, and how I get to take other folks with me.