I think if was Dr. Johnson who said: “Brave was the man who ate the first oyster.” Or words to that effect.
Oysters: After no small challenge you pry the think open and you are left with something that looks a bit like a boorish guy with a bad cold might have spat on a sidewalk. And if you are given to eating oysters in the raw (you can be dressed or not, that’s your option) the sensation of consumption also resembles that bad cold. I mean, I never quite got the point of consuming something that you immediately send down your gullet.
That is combined with the fact the poor little bugger is still likely alive when you send it to your nether regions. And, as Woody Allen said, “I won’t eat something that is still alive, or merely sick our wounded. I want my food to be dead.”
Personally, I love oysters. I like them cooked, if you please, and breaded, or in an oysterburger and I don’t know why in hell we, here in the heart of oyster country, don’t have even one oyster bar in the vicinity. In oyster country in Washington State they absolutely proliferate. Anyway, as I say, I prefer the little bivalve molluscs cooked. The best way of all is to through the unopened oyster into a beach fire’s coals and wait until the heat opens the shells, which means it’s done. Apply a little butter and Tabasco, and it is to die for. Unfortunately the poor oyster literally did die for your treat.
Oysters in fact have rather wretched lives. Aside from being eaten, their days are rather a bore. They begin as free-swimming little larval sorts and they probably don’t realize these are the golden days of misspent youth. Once they approach maturity they attach to a rock or some other obtrusive thing and there they stay for all the rest of their lives. And since they don’t even have eyes they don’t get to watch the rest of the maritime world pass by. They are just stuck.
We, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, live in ‘oyster central’ and our Baynes Sound Oysters find their way to eateries all over the place. However, this year has been different. The chronically obsessed who make the rules have decided that algae bloom and hot weather has rendered them perilous to consume in a raw state and that has really hurt the markets for those in the business. I honestly cannot say if eating a raw oyster is risky at the moment. But, it is the summer and I tend to follow the old months without an ‘R’ rule and never pick them at this time of year.
In years past, however, when I lived right on Baynes Sound I used to harvest my own with impunity in all those R months.
I also learned another primary rule. If you are a novice and are about to ‘shuck’ oysters, wear a glove or you can, if you are a putz, lacerate your hand to ribbons.