the underbelly

DIY Oyster Shucking
July 31, 2010, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There are few things in life that I love more than a good oyster. Possibly my family. Certainly a really good glass of bubbles or a dry Plymouth martini with four large olives. But mostly my heart belongs to oysters. I am very much not alone. Oysters have been written about extensively. A new favorite quote of mine is from William Thackeray who upon eating an American oyster commented he felt as though he “had swallowed a baby.”

Back in my childhood days, we spent many a summer’s day out at Hog Island. I remember one party in particular on the beach. There were oysters everywhere. I was probably 6 or 7 and while an adventurous eater I wary about eating large, mucusy mollusks. It was more that I wasn’t sure exactly how to eat them. Do you swallow them whole? Do you chew them? Do they explode if you do chew them? I was never a fan of surprises. I like to know what to expect, which is why I never indulged in the popular nineties treat, Gushers. So, in short, I wasn’t eating the oysters. But I didn’t avoid them entirely. I drank them. My father would eat the meat and then hand me the shell to sip from. And really, that’s the essence of the oyster. That concentrated, briny, slightly sweet liquor that pools in the bottom of the pearly shells.

I envy my little self. Because now, fully grown and capable of eating oysters as they should be eaten, I have come to know that while they are indeed wonderful they are also expensive. And parties where they are bountiful are scarce.

But the other day at Fairway while shopping for scallops, which I would go on to ruin, I saw some oysters for only 99 cents each. The only catch? I would have to take them home and shuck them myself.

So that’s what I did.

But when I got home I realized, I don’t have an oyster shucker.

There it sat. Taunting me.

So smug.

But when it comes to food I am determined. So I armed myself with a paring knife, a screwdriver and an odd little serrated knife-esque thing whose true purpose I’m not sure of. The paring knife weakly gave up. The screwdriver pathetically chipped away at the shell. But the mystery tool did the trick.

Boom. Oyster conquered. And all the more delicious because I shucked it myself.


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