Friday, April 20, 2007

Food Porn Friday!!!

April ~ An "R" runs through it...

Oysters
Bi-Valve Love

This is the last month that traditionally you could safely eat oysters, though there were many a hot summer afternoon that I, as a barefoot child on the Carolina coast, would sit on the dock with a hammer and eat them right out of the shell.

You are either going to love this post or hate it. That is the nature of oyster love. It is either a mad passionate love affair or an utter revulsion. Those of you in the latter category should just turn away now and allow the rest of us to revel in our kinky oyster fetish. Don't hate us for it. It's an irresistible compulsion. We can't help it that we love oysters. We just do.

My mother was a small woman but you needed to stay out of her way at an oyster roast. She could eat her weight in the things. I learned the love by her side as the men would lift the shovel-fulls of steaming mollusks from the fire. They would put them in wet crocker sacks and cover them with sheets of corrugated tin. She would stand there with a glove on one hand, her personal oyster knife and some Spanish moss.

Gently she would show me how to tuck that knife into the back of the shell to pop open the oyster, wrapped in the moss and held with the gloved hand. When I was little, she would just pass the "easy" ones over to me. At the end of the night we would critique whether they had roasted them too long or just right. Just right was where they were hot, but barely distinguishable from a raw oyster. Before the frills curled.

Bluffton is famous for its oysters. They aren't the huge meaty Apalachicola things. They are smaller and more delicate and infinitely more flavorful. The long dead factory on Daufuski Island used to ship oysters to the King of Prussia. They are that good. You can still get those oysters from the Bluffton Oyster Company run by my childhood friends, the Toomer family. Of course, it is much different today than it was when I was growing up. You used to be able to call ahead and ask for a gallon of oysters shucked but not washed. The washing removes the sea brine...something a true oyster lover greatly appreciates. My sister and I would squabble over who got to eat the tiny little parasitic oyster crabs if we were lucky enough to find one.

Oysters were a winter staple of my childhood. They appeared on the table at Thanksgiving in my mother's cornbread oyster dressing. They were served in oysters and rice with bits of crispy bacon and chutney. They were served in oyster pies and pan roasts. And we all loved the tradition of having an oyster cocktail...a bowl of raw oysters topped off with cocktail sauce and a bit of Tabasco.

But the recipe I'm sharing with you today is one of the standard and easy comfort foods of my childhood. I can't remember a time that I didn't love the warm salty-sweet taste of cream and oysters together. There would be a thin film of butter floating on top to enhance the richness.


Oyster Stew
2 pints oysters
1 can evaporated milk
1 can full of whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, warm up milk, evaporated milk and butter. Add oysters. Season to taste. This soup should never boil and is ready when the edges of the oysters frill. Serve immediately with oyster crackers.
Frances Coats Griffeth


9 Comments:

  1. Jbeeky said...
    I have been too ashamed for too long. I LOVE OYSTERS AND I AM NOT ASHAMED TO ADMIT IT! Whew. Thank you.
    Anne Johnson said...
    UNFAIR UNFAIR UNFAIR! My favorite food! Oh, why why why do I always visit this site on Fridays??????
    Karen said...
    This is my dad's favorite food, I think. On wintery afternoons, when it was just my sister and he and I, he would make oyster stew. He never made it when my mom was home and Kris and I never really got into it. I'll have to make it the next time he comes for a visit...
    Hayden said...
    I adore oysters. I never ate one until I was 20. I was waiting tables at a nice steakhouse in a small, midwestern misbegotten town - the chef adored it when people ordered off of the menu, that's when he got to really show off and fix something interesting.

    He had no patience with wait staff that wasn't professional, and no patience with well-done steaks. I usually came in on the money and I ate my meat rare. I was probably also a favorite because I really enjoyed food.

    We had a small menu we were allowed to order our dinner from. One day when I couldn't decide, he smiled and said "shall I just fix you something?" I was delighted - I would never have dared ask. When he passed me the bowl of steaming, creamy soup I had no idea - he watched me narrowly as I took my first bite, my eyes grew round with astonishment and then I melted completely.

    Satisfied, he smiled and went back to work.

    I've been enchanted by oysters ever since.
    bluemountainmama said...
    is that your mother in the photo?

    my husband is an oyster fanatic, but i have never been fond of them myself.....he would love this stew. maybe i'll be a good wife and try to make it for him. :)
    googiebaba said...
    Gee, Rosie, it feels like its been awhile since I visited you.

    One of the many great things about moving to the East Coast was the discovery of oysters. Loved this post.
    johnieb said...
    I started late, growing up inland, but I never met an oyster I wasn't gaga over. Reading about them makes me ravenous, and I'm as full as a tick, from Spinach/ Feta Popovers, and Chicken Pot Pie with a seriously nasty crust; I just won't tell the side of me that talks to my cardiologist about that part.

    And it'll be berries and cream season soon enough. Try yogurt, self.
    Pissed OFF Housewife said...
    But what is the green I see on top of your soup?

    HH is still out of town and hates Oysters so I thought I'd try to make this tonight or risk being a terrible mother by not giving my kids the YUMMIEST food on the face of the earth!
    C. Jane said...
    SURVEY SAYS:

    MMmmm....MMmmm..........Loved it!

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