One day, you wake up and you know you have to make a change.
You sit at the same desk. You do the same work. You eat the same sandwich from the same deli. It has all become rote. You’re going through the motions.
It’s important that you acknowledge how OK that is. Even the grandest of journeys have a few lulls. You have to drive through Barstow to get to Vegas. Luke needed to train with Yoda on Dagobah before he could pull off that really cool backflip over the sarlacc in Episode VI. You need these gaps to allow excitement to build, to train for your own super sweet backflip.
Around two months ago, Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz released a cookbook of 15 recipes that embody his culinary lifestyle. Salmon teriyaki, shrimp scampi, something called “me time sauce”, it’s all in there.
This is my Dagobah. 2 Chainz is my guide. And together, we’re going to do the culinary equivalent of a backflip as we Julie & Julia the 2 Chainz Cookbook.
SCENE: A COUCH IN AN EMPTY APARTMENT. A MAN LIES PRONE, HIS LEGS SPRAWLED ACROSS A DUSTY COFFEE TABLE. NBA HIGHLIGHTS FLICKER ACROSS THE TELEVISION. THE ANNOUNCERS ARE BARELY AUDIBLE.
SOMETHING ABOUT THE MAN ISN’T QUITE RIGHT. HIS EYES ARE GLAZED OVER. HIS CHEEKS SHINE RED, AS IF THEY’VE BEEN BUFFED TO A BUTTERY SHEEN. IN THE DISTANCE, THE SOUND OF A CHURNING DISWHWASHER CAN BE HEARD.
HE CONSIDERS HIS PHONE. FLIPS THROUGH SOME TEXTS, CHECKS DEADSPIN, GRANTLAND, FACEBOOK. THE INFORMATION THAT SCROLLS ACROSS HIS SCREEN DOESN’T REGISTER. NOTHING DOES ANYMORE.
ALL HE CAN THINK OF IS THE BUTTER AND THE GARLIC AND THE SHRIMP AND THE PASTA. AND THE LEMON. LEMON EVERYWHERE. AS THE CAMERA ZOOMS IN YOU SEE BITS OF PARSLEY HAVE FALLEN ONTO HIS SWEATER, STUCK THERE LIKE DISCARDED HARD CANDY.
A FAINT SMILE CROSSES HIS FACE AS HE CLOSES HIS EYES. MAYBE HE’LL SLEEP. MAYBE NOT. ONE THING’S FOR SURE, HE’S NOT MOVING FROM THIS COUCH. NOT AS LONG AS THE SMELL OF GARLIC AND BUTTER WAFTS THROUGH THE APARTMENT LIKE BARBITUATE MIST, SNEAKING INTO HIS NOSTRILS. SENDING HIM DEEPER INTO THE OPIUM DEN OF IS MIND.
I really liked 2 Chainz version of shrimp scampi.
The sauce is essentially lemon, garlic, butter and oil, with some parsley thrown in as a garnish. It goes well with rice or pasta. You can throw in vegetables if you feel like inserting some nutritional value. It won’t matter though. Shrimp scampi is the food equivalent of a tranq dart.
Four hours after finishing my meal, I peeled myself off my couch and wandered around my apartment in a state of confused bliss. Where am I? How did the dishes get done? Have I been drinking? Why am I sweating grease? Jesus, there’s parsley everywhere. Is that lemon scent from the Clorox wipes or… no, that’s a discarded lemon rind. Should I save that if I ever need lemon zest? Why the hell would I ever need lemon zest?
The consumption of 2 Chainz shrimp scampi turns standard household tasks into Odyssey of the Mind challenges. Conversing with people outside your circle is out of the question. The remote control becomes a sort of unholy rubik’s cube that no formula can solve. You just ingested half a stick of butter and a cup of olive oil over pasta and shellfish. Imagine getting drunk on absinthe and watching a Twin Peaks marathon. That level of weird becomes your reality after 2 Chainz scampi.
For a minute, I wondered how a man who makes his living on stage could perform after consuming a food that would send most men into an Agent Cooper-like dream state. Then I remembered that 2 Chainz loves sizzurp.
2 Chainz’ first step calls on you to shell and butterfly two pounds of large shrimp – an extremely tedious and disgusting task. This video will show you the proper technique. It takes a bit of practice.
Butterflying shrimp isn’t for the squeamish. You’re basically ripping the legs off of a bottom-dwelling water insect and cutting it open. It’s nasty, and you may lose a bit of your appetite by the time you’re finished. Also, be sure to sharpen whatever knife you use before you start because those little shits are tough to cut.
Once you’ve butterflied them, place the shrimp in a baking pan and drizzle them with oil. Next, take whatever you think is a healthy amount of garlic powder and double it. We’re in this for bold flavors. Sack up. Sprinkle the pan with the garlic powder, salt and pepper and set your oven to broil.
Use the preheat time to prepare the scampi. Boil the prescribed amounts of oil, butter, parsley, garlic and lemon in a saucepan, stirring frequently. The mixture should come to a boil in a relatively short amount of time.
Once all of that has come to a boil, dump it in the saucepan on top of the shrimp. Make sure the sauce has distributed evenly so the shrimp can soak up that buttery goodness. Take a moment to come to grips with the fact that eating this will probably require angioplasty. Once you’ve embraced your looming case of heart disease, put the pan in the oven.
ENTERTAINMENT BREAK/establishing ambience
The only issue I take with 2 Chainz’ scampi is the utter lack of Chainz in the preparation.
Cranking “Used 2” on repeat saved an otherwise lackluster crab cake recipe. For the salmon teriyaki dish, watching clips from Hype Williams’ horrifyingly offensive Belly allowed me to consider Nas’ late-1990s output, as well as question how the enablement of DMX fulfills the responsibilities of a philosophical gangsta with violent priors (it does, in so many ways). Even if the salmon came out poorly, the experience certainly added some intellectual heft to my opinions on Nastradamus.
The only non-food related suggestion 2 Chainz makes in his scampi recipe is to listen to “I Do It” while you put the baking pan in the oven. That’s it.
Unlike the transcendent “Used 2”, “I Do It” sucks. The song features Lil Wayne and Drake, two above average artists who have never failed to bring out the worst in each other. When you pair them with 2 Chainz, the result is a five minute exercise in douchebag rap. This song would fit nicely in a promo for Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory on MTV, or a documentary on the love lives of Entourage fans living in the San Fernando Valley.
The enjoyment one takes from a 2 Chainz track is rooted in wonderment. Does this guy have any idea how ridiculous he sounds? Drake, as evidenced by this photo, knows exactly how ridiculous he has become. When he tries to sound like anything other than rap’s answer to Joni Mitchell, he comes off like a man who worries about overdraft fees after putting a round of shots on his tab. It’s kind of a bummer.
As for Lil Wayne’s involvement, the less that is said, the better.
So yeah, preparing scampi with this song in the background was a letdown. At least, until the song’s outro, sung by an unnamed R&B singer:
Y’all ready? 1, 2, 3
Right now it’s me time
A little time for myself, me time
Oh yeah, right now it’s me time
Don’t want no one else now, me time
B*tch please don’t call my phone, don’t call my phone
Said I wanna be left alone, be left alone
Please, please don’t stop by my home
No, no cause I fell it’s just a matter of time
Till you people make me lose my mind
I’m bout to leave this world behind
Right now it’s me time
You need to go kick rocks now
It’s like Morrissey and 2 Chainz had a little emo baby together and taught him to sing like D’Angelo. If you weren’t in the mood to eat butter-broiled shrimp alone yet, I’m sure that ditty helped.
(Semi-related side note – the second song to shuffle play in the Spotify search queue for “I Do It” is, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams).
2 Chainz’ instructions say to broil the scampi until the shrimp tails start to brown. That only took 5-10 minutes with my oven, so be sure to start boiling pasta before you broil the shrimp.
I’ve already said it but I’ll say it again, shrimp scampi is incredibly rich. You shouldn’t need more than ¾ cup of pasta per serving unless you struggle with self-control. Serve the pasta in bowls or deep plates, then use tongs to transfer the shrimp from the pan. Next, scoop out some of the excess scampi at the bottom of the pan and pour it over the pasta.
Be very careful as you do this. Although it’s quick to cool, scampi is basically boiling hot oil and butter. If you spill it on yourself, it will burn you and it won’t be easy to wash off. Do this next to a sink to be safe. The only thing more important than “Me Time” is safety and avoiding texts from the other guy in Playaz Circle.
Throw a little extra parsley on each plate and serve it with a lemon wedge. As you take your first bite of shrimp and the butter dribbles down your chin, try to not think about the look on your future wife’s face as she calls an ambulance after you experience chest pains 40 years from now.
Don’t listen to “I Do It” while you do this. Maybe play “Used 2” a few more times. Then put on Twin Peaks.
1.7 out of 2 Chainz
The entertainment portion of this recipe left much to be desired. I’m not in this for the food, 2 Chainz. I’m in this for nonsensical instruction in a lifestyle I have no hope or desire to replicate.
The scampi is delicious. Mildly hallucinogenic, but delicious.
2 Chainz life lessons
Much like Amy Adams’ character in the terrible movie trailer on which this article is based, I learned a lot about myself in preparing Shrimp Scampi a la 2 Chainz. The key lessons, bullet-pointed, are below:
- There is a direct relationship between the consumption of shrimp scampi and an unyielding, seemingly opiate-induced lethargy.
- Scampi can be shot, snorted, huffed, gummed or smoked. Don’t freebase it. You have more class than that.
- It wouldn’t hurt to throw a vegetable or two in with the pasta. Just saying.
- Buy air freshener before you shell and butterfly shrimp in your home. My countertop smelled like a wharf.
- Eating this made me want to re-watch Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America. Not sure why, but worth mentioning as it seems like something 2 Chainz would recommend. Food for thought for future editions, 2 Chainz.