If your family celebrated milestones at Midwestern steakhouses, then perhaps you also embraced the thrill of the shrimp cocktail. From an early age, I could devour my own weight in poached party shrimp doused in horseradish-laced ketchup, and it’s a predilection that doesn’t show any signs of lessening. Five years ago, a Mexican former co-worker named Claudia introduced me to the culinary wonder that is campechano. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Poached shrimp, big chunks of avocado, minced onion, jalapeño, and cilantro are jam-packed into a chilled, super-thick, tomato-based gazpacho-like soup. Always accompanied by saltine crackers and plenty of limes for squeezing, it’s a sensational light meal in the dead heat of summer. El Valle Verde in Carthage does a stellar version that comes with three oysters on the half shell in addition to the standard ingredients. But it’s their soup base that’s more flavorful than most. I’m guessing some Clamato and plenty of Worcestershire sauce was involved. It’s shrimp cocktail, south of the border-style.
El Valle Verde, 6717 Vine St., Carthage, (513) 821-5400, mexicancincinnati.com