Spare a thought for the lonely and lowly bivalve

oystersWe had oysters for dinner last night. Not to test out their aphrodisiacal properties, though you never know. OK, chuck out that myth. But, regardless of the fact they aren’t really Viagra on the Half Shell, they’re always a delightful treat.

The ones we had, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, were Washington State oysters. Embarrassed if only that we, living where we do on the east coast of Vancouver Island – which is ‘Oyster Central’ of Canada and Baynes Sound oysters are known quite universally – felt a tad disloyal. However, Wendy, when she was a business consultant, did consultancy with an oyster farmer on the Olympic Peninsula, right in the neighborhood of where the ones we savored originated.

I love oysters. I accept the fact there are those that don’t. Some find the icky and nasty. Well, maybe I find people that don’t like them to be icky and nasty, too. I don’t do raw oysters. I know there are those that savor them au naturel, but I find that concept a bit unappealing. Or, as an aunt of mine once opined, “Eating raw oysters, to me, is too much like having a bad cold.” I get it.

So, I cook mine. I share the Woody Allen opinion about eating raw oysters (since often they are alive) in which he states he was his food “dead, not sick, not wounded, but dead.”

When I lived on the beach a number of years ago – right on that aforementioned Baynes Sound, whence we harvested our own bivalves right out in front – we’d get a good beach fire blazing and then get it down to glowing coals and then we’d through oysters in the shell right onto the coals. Yes, I know it’s cruel, but if you keep your distance you cannot hear them scream in the inferno. Anyway, you would watch them, and when the shells popped open they were ready to consume. Throw in a little butter and Tabasco and you have a delectable feast. And since that was years ago and since a certain amount of beer had been consumed and one might have been accompanied by a lovely lady then one could convince oneself that the aphrodisiac qualities were no lie. Of course, if it was a moonlit summer night with a beach fire, that might have had something to do with a delightful dessert after the oyster feast.

Oysters themselves don’t have thrilling lives, I can only assume. Kind of sad. Their parents spawn and for brief time the little oysterlings swim freely – the glory days of their youths – and then it all comes to a dreary end. They attach themselves and there they sit, fully stationary down all their days until some greedhead such as I who had said to his lady “let’s have oysters” comes and apprehends them and turns them into dinner.

I suspect an oyster’s life is very lonely, and probably real boring. You know, just being out there and unable to do anything. I don’t know if oysters are sentient. I know they cannot read, and seem to be unable to chat with other oysters or passing fish. Damn, now I’m getting a bit depressed and guilty over the number of times I’ve defiled and truncated their lives.

Oh, and last night we had them breaded and with seafood sauce. They were heavenly.

OK, not so guilty. They’ll never know I was the one who ate them.


11 responses to “Spare a thought for the lonely and lowly bivalve

  1. If their lives are so sad, maybe they feel a certain gratitude at having them over with… Just a thought. 🙂

  2. Ian, We’re very similar in our tastes (and both worthy hacks!) When you’re next in Paris we will share a plateau de fruits de mer: I love les huitres.
    See my blogpost:

  3. Oysters don’t like me.

  4. Lithus, too, was having oysters last night ~ albeit raw on the halfshell with extra horseradish and hot sauce. Give me a clam, but oysters…not so much. That being said, cooked open on a beach bonfire, under the stars, with good friends, I bet I could be persuaded.

    • Come and visit and I’ll cook you oysters on the beach. Now clams, too, are wonderful. My idea of Heaven involves a good New England chowder. Oh, and mussels are fabulous. I am bivalve mad.

  5. What do oysters eat?

    Like you, I’m not a fan of raw oysters. Truth be told, though I’m ok with oysters Rockefeller, I can take ‘me or leave ’em.

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