From Mike Janela in Mazatlán, Mexico
Mazatlán, Mexico, prides itself on seafood, to say the least.
The "Pearl of the Pacific," as its nickname notes, sits on the country's western coast and is renowned for its fishing industry. Residents have also taken to calling their city "El Capital de Camerón" - the Shrimp Capital, an unofficial title for sure, but one they claim with pride nonetheless.
Except, now, the people of Mazatlán have a legitimate title to attach to that pride: Guinness World Records holders.
I headed to "La Perla" this week to adjudicate a record attempt nine months in the making and spearheaded by Tres Islas, the city's hotel association. Its goal? Nothing short of smashing the record for the largest shrimp cocktail ever made.
The previous record stood for more than a year at 116 kg (255 lb 11 oz) by a student group in The Netherlands. The organizers of Tres Islas wouldn't allow that to stand and made sure of it. In fact, their aim was not just to surpass the record, but to destroy it.
Once all the shrimp had been added to the cocktail glass, all the dipping sauce had been mixed in, and the glass rim lined meticulously with more shrimp each the size of a computer mouse, the industrial scales came to a rest at an incredible 538.5 kg (1,187 lb 3 oz.) of shrimp cocktail. The crowd of approximately 400 at the city's convention center then began the celebrations of their "Coctelazo" in the most appropriate way - by rushing the giant cocktail and literally seeing what a world record tastes like as the shrimp were all given away.
For all records involving such magnitude, the numbers often tell the best stories and this case is no different.
The glass itself took four months to manufacture, a Plexiglas acrylic cocktail glass replica that boasted a diameter of 1.36 m (4 ft 5 in) and a height of 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in). The group started with 675 kg (1,488 lb) of unpeeled shrimp before a group of about 80 chefs started a six-hour task at 5:30 a.m. of peeling, cleaning, and cooking what ended up as 488 kg (1,075 kg) of prepared shrimp. Estimates of the total number of shrimp used soared past 33,000, although not all prepared shrimp were saved for the final cocktail.
As for the dipping sauce, it featured 57 kg (127 lb) of ketchup, 10 kg (22 lb) of lemon juice, 5.6 kg (12 lb) of "salsa brava," 4.025 kg (8 lb 14 oz) of Worcestershire sauce, 3 kg (6 lb 9 oz.) of salt, 1.014 kg (2 lb 3 oz) of Tabasco sauce, and a relative pinch of 30 g (1 oz.) of pepper.
It was also no coincidence that the record was attempted and broken on the United Nations' World Tourism Day. On a day when people around the world celebrated what made their cities so special, Mazatlán announced its global shrimp supremacy with the authority of a city not willing to give up its title any time soon.