I don’t know why. But I do remember when…I decided I like raw oysters. It was St. Valentine’s Day weekend 2016. I didn’t have plans. I’ve been married a long time to a man who is about as romantic as the gutters on my house. So my FAVORITE cousin came over for the weekend and we did what we do: drink too much and eat good stuff.
We really enjoy seafood. And since I live in a state that has access to some of the freshest, local creatures from the ocean, bay, stream, rivers and lakes, we often indulge during my FAVORITE cousin’s visits. I’d been looking at posts from my preferred fish monger and they made the raw oysters look so good. I was clearly going through something, because in years past I’d look at a photo of raw oysters and almost immediately feel a little queasy. I’ve tried them in the past, at the urging of friends, but couldn’t get past the slimy, briny texture of this bivalve. Oh, I would eat them roasted, fried and in stuffing, but NOT raw. Again, I don’t know why, but this time, I wanted some.
Now, my husband is not romantic. But he loves me dearly. So, I can get him to run all kinds of errands to make me happy on St.Valentine’s Day. I take what I can get. I send him to the fish monger. My FAVORITE cousin was in tow with a much liked bottle of good vodka. What better luxury (because I don’t yet like caviar…stay tuned, that may change also) to accompany this vodka than some lovely oysters? Now, I know there was other food. There must have been because: 1.I didn’t know for sure I’d like them; 2. I always make a buffet of food when we’re drinking; 3. combined, we’re pretty ravenous eaters, so we need more than oysters; 4. my kid, while not a picky eater, is not quite ready for raw oysters. Whatever else there was to eat, I know we ate that first. Then we decided to end the meal with these lovelies. For the record, I don’t remember what kind they were…VA salts I think. There was also lemon wedges and good cocktail sauce to accompany the little yummy bits that were presented shucked. in half of the shell. on a bed of rock-salt. Oh…and there was freezer temperature vodka on standby. (I figured, just in case I still don’t like them, the vodka would help me recover.)
Before you judge me prematurely, I don’t need liquor to enjoy food. I tried one oyster with just a splash of lemon. It was ok. Not as bad as I remember. Was almost sans taste at all. Was like a bit of the ocean with essence of lemon. (I love anything lemon!) I had a second with lemon and cocktail sauce. Even better. Note: this whole time, my three dudes (and probably the dog) were staring at me as if I were trying opium. They waited for a reaction. I was good…they were good. Proud of my bravery and accomplishment, now I wanted to have an “oyster shooter”. Again the stares. I put an oyster in a shot glass, added a bit of freshly squeezed lemon, plopped on a bit of the peppery sweet cocktail sauce and topped it all with a good splash of ice cold vodka. Down the hatch! Mmmmmmmmmmm! That was the best thing so far. The flavors swirled in my mouth like a happy playground of edibles. SO tasty. Now the kid was convinced and wanted to try. Sorry…seven is too young for oyster-vodka shooters in my house. This isn’t Russia. I did let him try one with lemon and cocktail sauce. He wasn’t sold.
So, it turns out I do like raw oysters. They have to be fresh, cold and I have to trust the source. It helps to have good company and yummy accompaniments. I was bummed to find out that I fell in love at the tail end of availability and didn’t get to enjoy this treat much after my St. Valentine’s rendezvous. But now it is September and according to lore, they are best enjoyed in months that end in r (or “bruary”). I am anxious to have them again and try my hand at toppings like garlic butter, chipotle mayo, and mignonettes of varying types.
Just goes to show you that as with love, sometimes you never know…it just happens.