Log Cabin Chronicles

greg duncan

© 1998 John Mahoney

The Gallivanting Gourmand

Slurping good eating


Whoever the first human was to walk along the beach, pick up an oyster, crack it open and dare to eat it, was a daring individual indeed. These strange-looking mollusks are not the most eye-appealing offering that Mother Nature provides for our tables.

Nonetheless, some people just gush over them. When they are available, that is. That time is now and oysters are relatively easy to find at most supermarkets and on restaurant menus while they are in season.

Time-honored tradition says that we should only eat oysters in the months that end in an R.

September, October, November and December mark the months when they are best and at the very least safest to eat. Especially raw. Oysters are prone to absorbing small algae that can produce a toxic effect, but the chance of that algae coming on with the tide is rarer in the aforementioned months, as the toxic algae blooms in warm waters.

You should never eat a raw oyster that is already open in its shell either, as shellfish poisoning will leave you with a pain in the gut that will have you foregoing seafood for life. Tap an oyster shell and if it's fresh, it will snap shut. If not, toss it away. A clean tight shell that is difficult to shuck is what you are looking for. If you are adventurous, the rewards are great.

There are too many varieties to mention but all are good. That is if slimy and gushy is your thing.

Those who have acquired a taste for them insist on raw oysters in their liquor (as their juices are known) and slurp these babies back with lustful abandon. A dash of Tabasco, a squeeze of lemon, or a dollop of horseradish help them go down.

Personally, I like the little oysters that are smoked and canned. As a topping for a crisp cracker they can't be beat. You'll find them at the grocery next to the tuna. Others enjoy all manner of concoctions using these bivalves.

A very acceptable way to enjoy an oyster is in a soup. Fresh oysters aren't necessary for the following recipe and as an added bonus, oysters are renowned for their ability to produce an aphrodisiac effect. They are also cheaper than Viagra.

Oyster Soup

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup soda cracker crumbs
  • 1 ts. salt
  • 1/4 ts. pepper
  • 2 cups fresh, frozen or canned oysters with juice, cut up.
  • 1 tbs. butter or margarine
Combine milk, cracker crumbs, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan. Heat until just boiling. Add oysters with juice and butter. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, until edges of oysters curl. Serves 4.

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Copyright © 1999 Greg Duncan/Log Cabin Chronicles/10.99