Do You Know What A ‘One Pot’ Is?

If you're from Fairhope or Mobile, it's time to school the rest of us.

Shrimp Boil Recipe
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Growing up on the bay in Point Clear, Alabama, just down the road from Fairhope taught me the finer things in life. I learned my numbers by counting pelicans as they flew over the wharf; I threw cast nets and baited hooks before I knew how to tie my shoes; I spent countless hours digging for clams with my toes; and on Jubilee mornings, I would gig a flounder at 7 a.m. and make it to school by 8. But the finest thing the bay has taught me, perhaps, is the art of the "one pot."

Like a shrimp boil, this meal is as easy as it gets and satisfies all ages from two to 102. Conecuh sausage, red potatoes, silver queen corn on the cob, Vidalia onions, and Gulf shrimp come together impeccably with a hint of Old Bay. Plus, garlic butter for dipping!

Based on the similarities, the unschooled may be tempted to say that a one pot is the same as a shrimp boil and vice versa. I wish I could shed light on a clear distinction, but to me a "shrimp boil on the bay" just doesn’t feel right as it rolls off the tongue. It’s simply a "one pot! I’d compare it to the "hugger" versus "koozie" debate. Neither is wrong, but depending on where you’re from, one definitely feels more right.

The one pot is a way my family gathers with friends, family, neighbors and strangers. It’s our favorite meal to share with any out-of-town guests because it gives our visitors a real taste of Mobile Bay and its traditions.

One Pot Shrimp Boil

Turner Spottswood

I can't help but smile as Dad, using a wooden canoe paddle to carry the pot, dumps the goodies onto the newspaper we have been saving up for this special occasion. While the sun sets, everyone stands around and assumes their positions to munch directly off the newspaper, rather than using plates. Typically, wherever you start is where you will be standing long into the night. With a one pot, conversations inevitably chirp on until the stars are shining bright. As the wine bottles empty and the newspapers' sole survivors are shrimp peels, Mom pulls out the warm lemon towels for everyone’s seafood hands. It’s basically heaven, and I'll always look forward to conversations over red potatoes and silver queen corn with friends and family from near and far.

So, whether you refer to this meal as a shrimp boil or one pot, I hope you treasure each flavor, each person, each dip into the garlic butter dish, and the bay (or whichever other body of water) that surrounds you. I could easily be convinced that the one pot is, in fact, the finest thing in life, because for me, it's about so much more than the meal itself.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles