The Story Of My First Oyster

“Ewww! it looks so gross!”  I practically squealed to my friend.  I poked it with a fork and the slimy little blob responded by swishing around a little in its shell.  There, sitting in front of me, delicately relaxing on a crisp white plate was my first raw oyster.  Eyeing the variety of sauces and dips that were presented to us on a bed of smashed ice, I packed as much as I could into the fragile white shell; a couple of shakes of Tabasco sauce, a healthy dollop of jalepeno cocktail sauce and a giant squirt of fresh lemon juice.  In a last ditch effort of protest, I moved away from the sea creature and looked at my friend quizzically, “People eat this?!” She responded with a smirk and a solemn nod.  “They do, all the time.”  I looked back at the plate and my little oyster was still there, waiting patiently for me to get up the courage to toss it back.    

Food’s funny like that and I think it’s a fair statement to say that everyone has a list of some foods that simply gross them out.  In the sake of being honest, seafood has always been one of those things that for whatever reason, make me a little squeamish and oysters were firmly at the top of that list.  I have avoided them for 29 years and to be honest, hadn’t given them too much thought.  I knew they came in a shell and that one is supposed to approach eating an oyster as one would approach taking a shot of liquor; just get it down as fast as you can and try not to think about it.  This eating method just baffles me.  I like to enjoy my food and savor the flavors as I chew.  I just couldn’t get this concept, nor could I understand the appeal.  How does one experience the flavor if one doesn’t chew?  But, that being said, what sort of a food nerd would I be if I didn’t at least give them a shot? 

So there I was in the middle of the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons, celebrating National Oyster day with my friend Fiona to my left, a chilled fizzy glass of Rose champagne to my right and an oyster, buried in sauce and sitting in front of me.  I took a deep breath, summoned a little extra courage and tipped my head back as I raised the shell to my mouth.  The contents of the shell landed on my tongue with a dainty little thud and then cold little sea creature gracefully slid right down my throat.  I straightened myself up and paused to reflect on what just happened.  The taste of sweet and briny salt water lingered in my mouth.  My friend anxiously stared at me, waiting for a reaction.  A slight smile swept across my face and I heard myself say, “You know, that wasn’t all that bad.  I mean I probably wouldn’t go out of my way again to eat one again but I probably also wouldn’t so strongly decline it either”. 

And that was it.  I had had my first oyster.

Photo credits: Fiona Coxe


Daisy said...

mm I love oysters. Good for you trying one. Great story here.

Megan said...

It's funny... I still remember my first oyster too. I was 21 or 22 and went out with an old friend and a bunch of her friends who I'd never met. We went to a fancy oyster house, and they ordered big platters of seafood on ice... and my friend Kate taught me how to dress and eat an oyster. There was a really good onion-vinegar -- I think it's called mignonette or something like that. I've been eating them ever since... but I usually only like the ones that are on the smaller side. Good for you for giving one a try!

Jon L said...

There's one small problem with this post: you're supposed to chew the oyster, not shoot it. I didn't learn that until I started my job and my boss took me out for dinner. When I would shoot them, I was like "what is the point?" Now, I think they're great.

Michael said...

And a simple neat very chilled vodka chaser

Boston Food Diary said...

Katie- I heart this post- hysterical.

Jon- I believe that both methods are acceptable -shooting and chewing. I think it's whatever you feel is right :-)

Cooking for Diabetics said...

Oysters are a desired taste appeal, either you love or hate, I love, husband hates. So never get at home, and will only have out at a good restaurant. Yummy, good for you giving them a shot.

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