Saturday, January 20, 2007

Oysters! Ostras! Talaba!

I invited the cowsins over for oysters after seeing the Good Eats oyster show. Cowsin M was down, as was my sister, but I disinvited her; she has a cold that I don't want.

I was worried about buying enough oysters for the two of us; I decided I would just get a couple dozen. At Mutual Fish I picked out a dozen medium sized ones, and a dozen tiny olympia oysters. I was a little disappointed with the little bag the fish guy handed me; my memories are of my dad coming home with a palate of big pacific oysters as big as my shoe.

My dad always used to get a discount a the Oly Farmer's Market because the oyster guy there was a big union guy (that relationship is called suki, I think) . Before that, we used to drive to shelton and buy them by the .... what's the word? by the gross?

Anyway, I got my little bag of oysters and went to pay. Next to me, a post yuppie couple was buying some fish. "She wants to buy some oysters" said Mr. Good Time, pointing to his pleasant blonde wife.

"How many can you eat?" she asked him, referring to the oysters.

"Oh!" he said lovingly, "a least three or four." He winked at her.

Three or four dozen, I thought? The fish guy pulled three or four single oysters out of the water. As I left the building I thought I saw them high-fiving each other.

Well, cowsin M came over, and so did my disinvited sick sister. I shucked all the oysters with my dad's oyster shucker, probably as old as I am. That oyster shucker is my inheritence. Anyway H, T, and M and I sat around the table eating oysters and telling the family oyster stories.

M told the one about the time all the uncles took the aunties to Genoa's by the Bay for all-you-can-eat brunch on Mothers' Day, and they ate all the oysters on the oyster table. Apparently Uncle E made a stink about them bringing out more oysters, but they refused to bring out more, saying they had to last all day. Ha! What kind of all-you-can-eat is that? Well, apparently most white people don't eat oysters into the single digits. I am sure, SURE that restaurant never had all-you-can-eat oysters ever again.

Then we talked about how the Harborside used to have a great $1.99 menu during happy hour, and one of the items was a bowl of mussels. I remember Asian families used to show up at that and order bowls and bowls of $1.99 mussels, and no drinks. Now those bowls of mussels are off the menu and there is a drink minimum. Live and learn. Now they serve those gross frozen kiwi mussles on the half shell, with the green tint, dressed au gratin under a salamander. That will guarantee that the Asians don't come back.

You know, white people, you used to eat shellfish by the pile too, and it used to be cheap. Remember? Now it's just us Asians and southern Europeans. But you enjoy your boneless, skinless chicken breast...

Actually I remember driving through the Peninsula once, and my mama showed me a mussel. We eat these in the Philippines, she said. White people don't know how to eat them. A couple of years after that, somebody discovered that FRENCH people eat mussels, so they started selling them, and charging a lot.

I can cook a kick ass bowl of mussels.

Anyway, this post was about oysters. We ate all 2 dozen raw, and I got pretty good at shucking them. They were small and clean, not like the barnacle encrusted, frilly oysters we used to cook in the microwave.

By the way, microwaving is by far the best way to cook an oyster in the shell. To me, a cooked oyster is what an oyster tastes like; the raw taste just tastes like the ocean to me, and is kind of a bore. But we decided to eat them raw. For some reason, raw oysters are more filling than the cooked ones, in my opinion. And when I say more filling, I mean I could only eat one dozen, max.

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