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Sweet & Pungent Breaded Jumbo Shrimp

Kenny Stallard

In 1956, eating out was usually going to a local restaurant for fried chicken, roast beef, ham or maybe a pork chop. Ethnic food mostly consisted of spaghetti or ravioli from a Franco American can. Oriental food was practically unknown.

When ask to escort one of Lynn View’s beautiful young ladies to a banquet at Far East Restaurant, anticipation of something new made it a no-brainer. Not to mention the thought of a beautiful young lady dressed in formal attire.

In the mid-1950’s, Lynn View was blessed with many beautiful young ladies. These were not just pretty faces, these girls were blessed with athletic talent untapped. To participate in sports outside of school gym class, they would have to play on a woman’s team in the City Recreation League.

It was the season ending banquet of one of these teams, that Wanda Childers and Jaynell Morris ask Gerald Ward and myself to escort them to the banquet at Far East Restaurant. Jaynell would be Gerald’s date and Wanda would be mine.

Wanda, Jaynell, Gerald and myself had been schoolmates for as long as any of us could remember. Wanda And Jaynell lived just a few houses apart, just a couple of streets behind where I lived. They were part of the kids in our area that would straggle home after school, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

Wanda’s gown for the night of the banquet was a soft peach color which perfectly complimented her soft tawny skin and wide brown eyes. Seems most of the girls in our group had tawny skin and the boys were all sun darkened. Must have been from all the time we spent outside. TV was not a major thing in our youth.

For the banquet, were to be allowed to order from the menu. We had quite a spirited discussion on the way to the restaurant as to what to order. Neither of us had any idea. We had never eaten at an oriental restaurant.

The Far East may have been the first oriental restaurant in Kingsport. I don’t remember another until a few years later when Joe Gong’s opened out on the Johnson City Highway, where the Martinique Restaurant was located in this time period.

When we arrived at Far East, we were shown into the banquet room and presented a large menu. We looked the listings over and came up with blank expressions! What to order? What is what? Wanda and I finally settled on ‘Sweet and Pungent, Breaded Jumbo Shrimp’. It was served on a bed of rice with sweet and sour sauce. We knew what rice was and we had eaten shrimp. ‘Sweet and Sour Sauce’, let’s take a chance.

They started us out with Won-Ton soup. A large rolled up noodle and limp looking greens in a broth. We didn’t know just what it was, but we knew it wasn’t Campbell’s Chicken Noodle. Being teenagers, we ate it. I now really enjoy Won-Ton soup.

Next came our entrée. There were six large shrimp, butterfly cut, batter-dipped and fried. They were served on a bed of white rice. A contrast of gold on white. The red, sweet and sour sauce was served to each individual in a cup. Drizzled or dipped, it was a new taste for the time. The large shrimp, which are now referred to as prawn, required cutting to eat. I remember the shrimp being quite chewy, which elicited fits of giggling between Wanda and myself as we ate our way through the meal. I don’t remember if we had a desert after the meal, but there were fortune cookies, another first for us.

Our first experience with oriental food was an eye opening event for a foursome from Lynn Garden, but one we would remember fondly as the years passed. Now Wanda and Gerald have passed away.

Adieu classmates.

 

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