Thursday, February 12, 2009

Exchange Students and Crab Rangoons

Damien came to our high school in suburban Ohio, as the only foreign exchange student in our class of 500. A strapping lad from Brisbane, Australia, he must have been at least six feet two inches tall, with tousled auburn hair and an accent straight out of ‘Kangaroo Jack’. As if that was not enough to ingratiate himself into our conservative Midwestern town, he was utterly unself-conscious, easy-going and the life of every party. He was a breath of fresh air; Everyone loved being around Damien.

At the end of our senior year, a few weeks before he was to return to Australia, Damien asked me to go to dinner with him. I am still not sure if it was intended to be a date or not (I was the kind of girl that boys wanted as a sister, not a girlfriend), but we had a smashing good time. He took me to a small Chinese place. I must clarify that Chinese food in Ohio, has nothing to do with authentic Chinese cuisine—but to teenage kids, it sure tastes good.

Per my M.O., I remember exactly what we ate. Damien ordered crab rangoons as a starter. I had never heard of them before. I guess his geographic origins gave Damien a better understanding of Asian delicacies. Crab rangoons, for those who don’t know are wontons that are stuffed with cream cheese and crabmeat then deep fried until golden and crunchy. Once bitten, the molten cream cheese/crabmeat goodness oozes out of the crispy wonton in a warm, savoury puddle of creamy seafood bliss.

We had great fun at that dinner.

After graduation, I never saw Damien again. We emailed several times over the following years, but all has been quiet for the past decade or so.

A few days ago I was clicking around FaceBook and I searched Damien’s name. Up popped a picture of that tall, boyish Aussie (with ubiquitous beer in hand)—he hadn’t changed a bit. I have to admit, after smiling to see his face, the first thing I thought of was crab rangoons (one. track. mind.) I hadn’t seen Damien or those crunchy little devils in over twenty years.

I emailed Damien a big, random ‘Hello! Remember me?’ and then started in on developing this recipe for crab rangoons. Although teenagers can eat virtually all the fried Chinese/American foods they like, this forty-year old has got to watch it just a bit, so I have baked them—they are yummy and crunchy, not quite as crunchy as the fried variation, but tasty all the same.

Below is my recipe. If making the crab rangoons for friends, double the recipe; they are as popular at parties as Damien was.

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