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I’ve just started reading The Oysters of Locmariaquer by Eleanor Clark. It’s a beautiful, out-of-print book (you can find a used copy here) recommended by a new friend, Alison Cook. (We randomly met at the bar at Babbo when I was in NY last week. After secretly coveting each others dinner choices, she spoke up and introduced herself. She’s the dining critic for the Houston Chronicle – where my parents live – and while sharing each others’ dishes and a lovely chat, we eventually realized we’re separated by about one degree and have more than a few mutual friends. Truly serendipitous.)
Anyway, Clark does a stellar job of describing oysters; the flavor, salinity, texture, brine. Not sure I can’t do it justice like she can.
“It is briny first of all, and not in the sense of brine in a barrel, for the preservation of something; there is a shock of refreshment to it.” … “You are eating the sea, that’s it, only the sensation of a gulp of sea water has been wafted out of it by some sorcery, and are on the verge of remembering you don’t know what, mermaids or the sudden smell of kelp on the ebb tide or a poem you read once, something connected with the flavor of life itself…”
I’m at a loss for words like this, poetic and prosey, that really grasp the flavor, sensation, and overall aesthetic of tasting an oyster. So at some point in the near future, I’ll have to use my reporter’s approach, a mildly scientific one if you will, to uncover the words, my words, for describing an oyster. It won’t be today, sadly. But someday, very soon. I’ll bring home a bag of oysters, maybe several from a few different farms, then taste them one by one and write down every word, however poetic or not, that pops to mind. I’ll need assistants, of course, and plenty of bottles of white wine and hearty beers (have you tried a good beer with oysters? Please do, it’s fantastic. Try Harpoon’s Munich Dark if you can find it) plus some crackers and plenty of lemons. Date is tbd so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m open to suggestions.