Confession No. 103 — Who are we? Really? (Recipe: Shrimp Pad Thai)

I‘ve donned horns. Had jowls that drooped almost to my shoulders. Even represented myself as a single item of red-colored clothing.

But that’s not who I am. Really.

Neither did my son ever brandish an onyx-hued eye patch and sword. Nor did we ever feed our daughter by way of photosynthesis or pinch off her head to encourage new growth.

I was recently speaking to an elementary school principal about mascots and learned that such titles are a thing of the past at her campus.

‘Didn’t y’all used to be the Hornets?’ I inquired.

‘Yes, but no more,’ she responded. ‘I just feel funny naming our kids after animals.’

‘Really?’ I asked. ‘You’ve obviously not met my kids.’

lawyerI was admittedly surprised at her response and initially believed it to be on the ridiculous side. Then I thought about it briefly. My favorite sports teams, as it turns out, are named for roles that humans tend to take on — Rangers … Phillies … Mavericks.

I traveled back in time.

The first baseball team I ever sat on the bench for was the Bulldogs. I graduated to the Red Sox. All the while, we celebrated our school spirit by donning Mini Devils gear. It wasn’t much different for my son, who played baseball for the Tigers, while our daughter was a forward on the Daisies soccer club.

Where do we come up with this juju? And why?

Perhaps these mascots are more for the parents. If you’re a father and you drive a Mack truck for a living, that bulldog decal is most appropriate for your sleeper cab. Daisy decals are the perfect accoutrement for any model of Volkswagen — especially those with white, fuchsia or powder blue paint jobs. But why are there no teams of doctors, lawyers or … geniuses?Doctor

There are Bears and Bulls — Chicago’s teams. They are, after all, named for the stock exchange there. If you are an aspiring broker, these are the teams you root for, regardless of your locale. By the same token, if your dream is to leave small town America and go to New York City, you’d pull for the Mets (short for Metropolitans).

There are plenty of other mascots worthy of our applause. At some point, almost all of us have wanted to become Astros (short for Astronauts). If you celebrate Independence Day — and who doesn’t? — at least a small part of you supports the Patriots or Yankees. And how could you not let out a hoorah or two for the Packers? Especially if you’re a carnivore.

But some of these other popular team tags? I can only guess their origins.

racerIt could be that, way back when, a scorned woman came up the bulldog, pirate and hornet monikers. And devils too. She might’ve been the same person who determined that boys are actually snips of snails and puppy dog tails.

I have no earthly idea about the genesis of Daisies or Flower Power Girls, though I sort of like the Clobbering Cuties.

I have lived in what my parents referred to as a pigsty and, I’ve been known to grab more than my fair share. I’ve also been warned that I was about to be eating my dinner outside with the other animals.

I’ve been referred to as a teddy bear, snake in the grass and as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not to mention, I’ve been called an ass more times than I care to remember.

Come to think of it, that elementary school principal might just be onto something.

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I’ve been in a bit of a Thai mood lately, with the Fresh Spring Rolls, Coconut Sorbet w/ Kaffir Lime Syrup and now, Shrimp Pad Thai. If you’re not familiar with Thai cuisine, Pad Thai is the perfect introduction. Feel free to use chicken or tofu instead of (or in addition to) shrimp. Though you might see lime juice listed across the World Wide Web as a viable substitute for tamarind paste (pulp) — it’s not. Both are sour, but the similarities stop there. If you don’t live near an Asian grocery or mega-gourmet supermarket, get tamarind from a Latin market.

Shrimp Pad Thai

Want Thai without the heat? Authentic Shrimp Pad Thai is right up your alley.

Want Thai without the heat? Authentic Shrimp Pad Thai is right up your alley.

Shrimp Pad Thai
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4
  • ½ lb – Shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 8 oz – Rice noodles
  • 2 cups – Mung (bean) sprouts
  • ½ cup – Green onion, chopped
  • 2 – Eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 cloves – Garlic, minced
  • 2 TB – Vegetable oil
Pad Thai Sauce
  • 3 TB – Brown sugar
  • 3 TB – Fish sauce
  • 2 TB – Tamarind paste, pressed through strainer
  • 2 TB – Soy sauce
  • 1 TB – Chile paste (Sambal Oelek)
  • ¼ cup – Chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup – Roasted peanuts, chopped
  • A few sprigs of Cilantro
  • A quartered lime
  • Additional green onion & Mung sprouts
Make Pad Thai Sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients; set aside.
  2. This may be made in advance and refrigerated for up to a week.
Prepare the noodles
  1. Soak rice noodles per package instructions — until flexible but firm. (Depending on the noodle, this could be anywhere from 10 minutes to almost an hour. Be careful to not over-soak the noodles.)
  2. Drain. Leave in colander.
Make the Pad Thai
  1. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and green onion, sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add shrimp and stir-fry until pink, about two minutes; remove from pan and set aside (to avoid overcooking).
  4. Give noodles a quick cold water rinse to separate.
  5. Meanwhile, add egg to pan and allow to cook for about 15 seconds until it begins to set.
  6. Add rice noodles to pan; stir with wide tongs to combine eggs and noodles.
  7. Add Pad Thai Sauce to pan.
  8. Continue stirring until sauce, eggs and noodles are combined.
  9. Add Mung sprouts and cooked shrimp to mixture; continue tossing for about 2 more minutes.
  10. Place Pad Thai onto a large platter and garnish with the listed ingredients.




  1. In HS we were the Crusaders. Knights and all. Being on a team that was called The Geniuses would be cool. It is interesting the need to be called something though.

  2. Consider the New Braunfels Unicorns….frightening….and there’s a school somewhere in the Pacific Northwest (go figure) who call themselves The Artists……I bet they’re a terror on the football field.

  3. High School, College, all of that will come and go, but Red Sox it always was and Red Sox it will always be.

  4. I made pad thai once and in the cookbook wrote “best left to the experts”. I really should try it again. Great photo. On the Ranch, we endear our Bronco Mascot. :) There’s a little town east of Denver whose mascot is the Cardinals. There’s hardly a Cardinal bird in our state. And my favorite the Limon Badgers. Perfect. My friend named their kids kids Summer league Softball team “The Sand Gnats”. 6 year olds. Loved that.

    • I’m anything but an ‘expert.’ I promise. Pad Thai is one of the easiest dishes to make. The only trick (if you want to call it that) is to not over-soak the noodles. Easy enough. Give it another shot. — The Texas Rangers Baseball Club used to have a single-A team called the Sand Gnats. :-)

  5. Clever essay. Though I hope the “wolves in sheep clothing” was an exaggeration!

    Since I don’t “do” sports – this is all I have to offer:

    In 6th grade, our grade was divided into 3 groups for math and science:

    Group A called themselves The Atomic As. Group A consisted of the really smart kids.

    Group B (those average learners) called themselves the Brainy Bunch.

    Then there was Group C. The group I was placed in. The group with all of the “slow” learners. Dejected – we weren’t THAT slow to believe the teachers when they said all of the groups were “equal” – we couldn’t think of anything that began with the letter C. So one kid said, “The Rockets?” and the rest of us shrugged. We were embarrassed enough.

    So I was a member of The Rockets. And believe you me – there was NOTHING rocket-ish about us.

  6. You…an arrrssss? Nevvahhh!! Me thinks the principal has way too much time on his/her hands…Besides who wouldn’t wanna be a Hornet…just ask Michael Jordan’s Charlotte NBA team! “Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan announced Tuesday that the franchise has officially submitted paperwork to the NBA to change its name to the “Hornets” for the 2014-15 season”

  7. Let’s see, high school was near the water, we were the “tritons.” Caltech used to have the “beavers” as their team name, appropriate.

    My husband was stationed in Thailand. We eat Thai fried rice fairly often. The only hard part of it for me was learning how to cook the egg.

  8. I am happy to follow the Leinster Lions. The moniker is a great help to journalists. “Lions roar past toothless Tigers” of “Saints pray for away victory”. What would newspapers do without them?

  9. We were just talking about the silly names of Japanese baseball teams. Swallows. Carp. I think my favorite is the Nippon Ham Fighters, which is obviously a bunch of guys wearing cleats and fighting ham.

  10. Jill Trobaugh says:

    Hi Adam, There is a Thai noodle salad at a local grocery deli.. that I cannot get enough of. Yes, I know… a store deli but it is spicy hot and good, good, good. On the ingredients list is Sambal. What would you consider a good substitute if any, for using Sambal? Is this a condiment that is always made from scratch? I cannot seem to find it on any store shelf. We have a great gourmet supermarket west of me in Tacoma called Metropolitan Market, they could have it, but it is a bit of a drive. AND if I went there, I would have to be broke because I am certain I would end up spending my paycheck before I got out of there. Help! Love the blog. Jill (twogeemom)

    • Hi Jill. Thanks for being among my 11 regular readers. I might be mistaken, but that ‘sambal’ ingredient could likely be Sambal Oelek, which is basically chiles ground with salt and vinegar. You can find it in just about any regular grocery store in the Asian section. In my store, that section is about three feet wide — barely bigger than the Kosher section. If you’re not sure where that is in your store, just find the soy sauce. It’s usually close by.

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