Who loves oysters? Raw on the shell? Grilled with a yummy sauce?
Living in the south of France near the Mediterranean coast, I’m surrounded by a culinary scene awash in oysters, mussels and other molluscs. When I first moved here as an expat, I realized there was no way around it: I had to learn to appreciate them so as not to be judged a gastronomic barbarian.
As a child growing up in the Netherlands, I had no worries about being a barbarian, culinary or otherwise. Neither did my brothers. Who cared about being a gastronomist?
My father did.
On various occasions he bravely attempted to increase our culinary sophistication beyond our appetite for boiled beef, meatballs, and sausages. So one Christmas dinner we were presented with raw oysters.
We were not enamored by these slimy snotty globs shimmering in their shells. They looked toxic and not like anything we were used to eating. My father looked ecstatic as he slipped one of the moluscs down his throat.
“It’s like an angel poops on your tongue,” he said. Clearly the sophistication issue was a tad compromised by this statement, but then we were children and we loved this comment while my mother shook her head and rolled her eyes.
Even so, angel poop or not, I was not tempted to sample the yukky creatures.
“I’ll give you a dime if you try one, my father said.” In my childhood a dubbeltje was something, and we all have our price, so I decided to be brave. I was however, not enchanted by this slimy thing sliding unchewed down my throat and that was that. No more.
My brother Piet was more given to being seduced by monetary gain and said he’d have another one for another dime. After which my mother put a stop to his eating a third oyster as it was clear he was not enjoying the deliciousness of the angel poop, but was merely in it to enrich himself.
In the fullness of time I learned to love oysters, but only in their grilled state when adorned with toppings of wine, cheese, and so forth. And oh, they are delicious! My mate and I are sampling them up and down the coast here in the south of France, on a quest for the best ones. So far we have settled on one restaurant, where the recipe includes a dash of Noilly Prat, a French brand of vermouth (see the photo at the top).
In the process of writing this post I surfed the Internet for information not only about oysters but about angels and their potty habits. In the depths of cyberspace I discovered, I kid you not, a recipe for angel poop. It involves melting white chocolate and pouring it over corn puffs. It makes a angelic white puffy heap. It’s divine. I made it and here’s the picture.
So, the conclusion of this tale is that my father was wrong: Raw oysters do not taste like crunchy white chocolate.
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Surely you have an exciting culinary experience from your childhood that either delighted or disgusted you. Please share!