Iowa Writes

Shrimp Salad/Ensalada de Camarones

     I grew up in Guatemala. Because my family lived close to the beach and in a tropical environment, we could go to the local seafood market. Fishermen would bring in fresh fish and shrimp almost every day.
     Back then, when I was little, everything was fresher. We didn't have to eat anything processed. Here in America, it is different. For example, in Guatemala we didn't eat cereal for breakfast. We ate beans, tortillas, and a little piece of cheese. We could have fresh milk from the cow; we didn't buy it from the store. A friend or neighbor had a cow, and we could buy the milk from them. The cheese was fresh, made that day.
     Here in America, the kids eat a lot of candy and chips. Now we find out that those foods are not good for our children. But back home, we got our sugar from the fruit that fell off the trees. There were fruits trees everywhere. Everyone had a lemon tree in their yard. The country I come from is hot, so we drink a lot of lemonade.
     We love lemons. Also, we had lots of mangos—varieties that you don't see here. My family had three mango trees in our yard. Other fruits include nance, tejocote, and guava. I miss the fresh fruit very much. It was good times.
     For dessert, my grandmother used to boil milk with cinnamon and sugar. She put it in little bags and gave it to the children. In our family, my grandmother cooked the most. She lived close to us. She made a lot of good food. She made a delicious pasta with tomato sauce (olive oil, garlic, onions). She would top it with a little cheese and fresh sour cream. Not at all like the processed, grocery store sour cream; it was very fresh.
     For holidays we ate turkey, tamales (such varieties as chicken, pork, black beans, and sweet), a green salad (with lettuce, lemon, broccoli, and nuts), a black bean salad (young black beans with corn and peppers), and a traditional fruit dessert (apples, pineapple, and other fruit boiled with cinnamon and raisins).
     I chose this recipe to submit to the cookbook because it is fresh and healthy. It is a summer recipe. If I made it in Guatemala, it would taste even better.

1 lb large, raw shrimp
½ cup onion, sliced
2 lb tomatoes
2 cucumbers
⅓ cup green onion, chopped
¾ cup cilantro
8 oz crab leg meat
1½ cups clam juice
2 large limes
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 avocado (optional)
1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
1 Tbsp salt

•  Bring a pot of water to a boil for two minutes.
•  Add the peeled shrimp and sliced onion and let them boil for three minutes. Remove them from the boiling water and set aside in a salad bowl.
•  Chop the tomato, cucumber, green onion, and cilantro and add to the shrimp.
•  Mix in the crab meat and clam juice.
•  Squeeze the limes and mix with the ketchup, then add to the mixture.
•  Finally, add salt to taste and the chopped jalapeño and avocado, if desired.
•  Place the salad in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool. Serve with crackers.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Laura's story and recipe were included in Food Roots, a cookbook published in 2010 by Local Foods Connection (LFC) in collaboration with an Art and Ecology class at the University of Iowa. Clients and farmers interviewed for this book come from Illinois, Iowa, California, Mexico, Guatemala, Republic of the Sudan, The Togolese Republic, El Salvador, and Thailand.

Local Foods Connection ( enrolls low-income families and the agencies that serve them in CSA programs. CSAs provide a season's worth of fresh produce to consumers while paying local earth-friendly farmers fair prices for the food they grow, raise, and produce. Clients have the opportunity to visit a farm, as well as to learn healthy cooking methods. These opportunities are part of LFC's larger educational program, which covers nutrition, cooking, and environmental issues.

This page was first displayed
on June 24, 2011

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