No.1 We’ve all heard the expression, “It was a brave man who ate the first oyster.” Of course it was a man, because women have a hell of a lot more sense!.
No. 2 Oysters are a lot like wine. They draw their flavors from their environment. (There are 300 different oyster appellations.) They are sometimes sweet; sometimes briny; sometimes salty.
No. 3 Today, most oysters are farmed. They are affixed to tiles and raised out in the ocean. Later, after they have reached a certain size, they are transferred to what is deliciously called the “fattening beds.” These are always near the mouth of a river where the mixture of fresh and sea water induces the overgrowth of the oyster’s liver. Hence, you have “foie gras of the sea!”
About five years ago, I had dinner at Highlands Bar & Grill with some friends. Kyle suggested we get some raw oysters. Maybe it was the martini talking, but I said “sure, what the hell.” (One of my favorite scenes in Mad Men was the martini and oyster lunch between Don Draper and Roger Sterling.)
The oysters arrived in a large silver metal platter on a stand, the oysters nestled comfortably on a bed of crushed ice. There was also the obligatory cocktail sauce, lemons, and saltines. The fork was, of course, optional. After all, one of the joys of eating raw oysters is the slurping. If my memory serves me correctly, we had a selection of PEI (Prince Edward Island), Beau Soleil, Apalachicola, and Chesapeake.
Ever sense, I’ve been a raw oyster fan, especially when I’m at Highlands Bar & Grill.
They say that the convert is the biggest zealot. I am when it comes to oysters, but my proselytizing has failed miserably. Laura, half-heartedly tried one the other night at Highlands. She was gracious in response to my enthusiasm but, at the end of the day, not sold. This was my most recent failure at conversion. The first came during one weekend with my son Hampton, the pickiest eater next to Mikey.
Hamp and I were at a soccer tournament near Mobile, Alabama. On the way home that Sunday, we stopped by Blue Gill for an early lunch. I ordered some raw oysters—fat juicy Gulf babies—and casually asked Hamp if he wanted to try one. I was shocked when he said yes! He put the whole thing in his mouth. I sat there, rapt attention and hoping that he may like them; a partner in crime!. And then his face contorted into a grimace. Crap!
Hampton, then asked: “How are these cooked?” “They’re raw.” “What does that mean?” And my response—I should have known better—was: “not cooked.”
I really thought the kid was going to toss his cookies right there in front of that nice family just in from church.
Damn! I thought I had a convert!