Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Consider the Oyster

Not being in the midst of boisterous family fun this Christmas is making me reflect on holidays past, the most recent being Thanksgiving.

A wonderful meal with friends, and before that, a quiet morning walk among the falling leaves, where we found this:

followed by a gorgeous weekend in Cape Cod

enjoying the cold, clear weather,

walks on the deserted beaches

a cosy fire, a most delicious wine,

and..... oysters.

Today, a month later, I read MFK Fisher’s ‘Consider the Oyster’.

A tiny gem of a book filled with essays contemplating the oyster, it includes recipes and thoughts on various ways to eat this strange sea creature.

While eating them raw on the half-shell is the only way I’ve tried them, it was fascinating to read about the stewed, baked and fried options, including the famous Rockefeller, about which she says, “According to the little black-and-gold booklet published for Antoine’s centennial, Oysters à la Rockefeller contain ‘such rich ingredients that the name of the Multi-Millionaire was borrowed to indicate their value.’ Some gourmets say that any oyster worthy of its species should not be toyed with and adulterated by such skullduggeries as this sauce of herbs and strange liqueurs. Others, more lenient, say that Southern oysters like Mr. Alciatore’s need some such refinement, being as they are languid and soft-tasting to the tongue…. Further north…..they like them cold, straightforward, simple, capable of spirit, but unadorned, like a Low Church service maybe or a Boston romance.”
: )

I do find it hard to choose cooked oysters over the cool, succulent raw ones that taste like the sea, but maybe, maybe…

Another interesting preparation-oysters in turkey stuffing-caught my eye, and I smiled at her description of it: “Oyster stuffing, for turkeys naturally, is as American as corn-on-the-cob or steamed coot, as far as Americans know or care. To many families it is a necessary part of Christmas dinner, so that its omission would at once connotate a sure sign of internal disintegration, as if Ma came to church in her corset-cover or Uncle Jim brought his light-o’-love to the children’s picnic.”

Well, to all those sitting down to Christmas dinner today, and showing signs of ‘internal disintegration’, I say, have a lovely Christmas and bon appétit!

1 comment:

Pippa said...

Beautiful pictures, Nitasha! These really came out stunning. I think you have a little naturalist in YOU!