Waiter, There’s a Monster on my Plate

Okay, I lied. There are four monsters on my plate. Such a thing happens when you order the grilled langostinos at Psari Restaurant in Astoria. Grilled in the Greek style—with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt—these critters were so oafishly oversized that one order of four was enough for my wife and me. For scale, you can see a steak knife cowering behind one of them in the picture above.

The word langostino tends to serve as a catch-all word for any kind of a shrimp-like critter with or without skinny little claws in front. In this case, the langostino served at Psari is a giant prawn plucked from the waters around Panama. I’ve enjoyed many a langostino throughout my travels in Panama, but I’ve never encountered critters of such size that they hang off the ends of the plate. The phrase “for export only” comes to mind.

I’m usually leery when it comes to larger-sized shellfish, especially lobsters, since their meat can be tough enough to justify their past calling—that is, as food for prisoners. Thankfully, the langostinos at Psari were just as sweet and rich as the smaller ones I’ve had in Panama, the meat popping a little when I bit into it. The lemon juice counterbalanced the slight charring, as did our bottle of Moschofilero.

In the course of dismembering the langostinos, my wife and I attempted what we normally do when reckoning with crustaceans: suck the heads. Nothing came out but sweet air. Refusing to become discouraged, my wife peeled apart the head shell to reveal little tufts of tender meat behind the eyes. It was like finding hidden treasure, an appropriate surprise from a critter that hails from the shipwreck-rich waters of Panama. Finders keepers.

Psari Restaurant
32-10 36th Avenue (between 32nd & 33rd Streets)
Astoria, NY 11106

About OmnivorousTraveler

Darrin DuFord is a travel writer, mapgazer, and jungle rodent connoisseur. His writing has won numerous awards and has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Travel, Gastronomica, Roads & Kingdoms, Narratively, and Perceptive Travel, among other publications. He is the author of Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns and Revelations in the Americas (released in July 2016) and Is There a Hole in the Boat? Tales of Travel in Panama without a Car, silver medalist in the 2007 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards.
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