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Thursday, Oct. 04, 2001
Anybody else like oysters?

Tomorrow night, most of the known adults in my little world are caravaning up the Eastern Shore of Virginia to pitch camp and make ready. For an all day Saturday oyster frenzy. Seems that there is a semi-famous Oyster Fest in Chincoteague (you might have read a cute story about a horse from there, Misty of Chincoteague).

Let me tell you, I can do a few things in life well, and eating oysters is one of them. Raw, fried, steamed, the preparation method doesn't matter. I've been known to eat the better part of a bushel in one setting by myself. They really aren't very filling.

Give me a cool fall day standing over an open fire with a grate on top, tossing oysters on the grate and covering them with a wet burlap bag for steaming. Waiting for 10 minutes, pulling off the bag and seeing all those shells popped open. Diving in with a blunt knife, toss on some Old Bay or tabasco. Slurp. Sure it sounds gross. Until you've tried it. After a couple of racks of oysters prepared this way I've seen the most dainty of eaters fall into a caveman mentality, running about with a smear of sauce on their cheek and a pile of empty shells at their feet. Wood smoke fills the air, an oyster knife stuck in your pocket, a soiled glove on one hand to hold the hot oyster shell in. A cold beer. Leave civilized living behind for a while.

Now I know that someone in, say, a large city condo environment, who has had oysters only when the word Rockefeller was associated with them, and at that in a resturant with linen tablecloths, would look in distaste at this ritual. Bring them to outfoxed for initiation. I can guarantee I'll have them in flannel shirts discussing the finer points of oyster opening inside of an hour.

Except for Ally. She can't stand 'em. Or so she says. I think with a little work, she could be turned. You should see what I did with my son. Grown men watch in awe as this boy plows his way through several dozen bivalves at one setting.

It makes me wonder, as I write this; Is the attraction of oysters one of food or one of comraderie around a fire? Taste or activity? I'll give a full report someday. After I've gone through an entire can of Old Bay seasoning and burnt my hand on a hot shell a dozen times.

We do tend to live well here in the South.

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