Oysters have a reputation. They get around and they get you to get around. So you might have read the title of this post as a euphemism. But it is not. It is a lament.
When my mother called to tell me that she had a horrible stomach bug from oysters I didn’t really believe her. I thought of all of the times we discussed our lives of privilege and wondered if complaining over oysters was perhaps the pinnacle of whining on the yacht. Then, as my kids say, I searched it up on the internet and found that the vibrio virus was real. At this stage in her illness my mother was more on the yacht’s lifeboat on choppy seas, so offered sympathy.
One of the most fascinating parts of my mother’s Cape Cod community is the local fishing trade. With the addition of environmentally conscious fish farms the life of the fisherperson has not changed in hundreds of years. Except that there are fisherpeople…not just fishermen. In the summer I watch their barnacle covered boats leave the old wooden piers and appreciate this continuity. The century long connection to the sea and the effortless way local eating nourished the families on this spit of land well before it was on trend.
If there is ever a time that this workforce is celebrated beyond the sunrise cruise and the sunset cocktail it is during Oysterfest which was cancelled last weekend because, as my mother told me, the oysters are tainted. “I didn’t know oysters had taints” said Steve and I remembered why I married him.
Unlike the usually 24 hour wretched and wretching food poisoning these “delicacies” are carrying a bacteriovirus. It isn’t this risk that keeps me from eating oysters. Even oysters pure as the saltwater they came from disgust me. How can I not like an erotic food that has names like “naked cowboy”? Easy. Eating oysters is like swallowing someone else’s skinned tongue. Which is less of an aphrodisiac than a tongue that still has its skin. The fact that you need to open your throat and shut down your gag reflex should speak to their lack of deliciousness. If they were good we wouldn’t be gulping with the speed of a Jagermeister shot. Even so I enjoy watching other people slurp them down with relish…or at least with mignonette.
Last summer Steve and I had a date night in Welfleet, home of the world famous oyster and fest. Wanting to leave the house before our dinner reservation we took a seat on an outdoor hilltop patio overlooking the small town. Steve was wearing my favorite shirt and we held hands across the pebbled glass table not saying much. He ordered some oysters and I took pictures of the moment that I thought represented vacation more than many others. Turns out those are not moments I choose to remember. After finishing our drinks we took a short walk and ended at our favorite restaurant where we finished the night having one of the worst fights we have ever had.
Years ago (almost 13) I would rant and he would listen in silence. I would spit and he would swallow. Yet for over a decade we have worked on this. I practice pausing and speaking rather than spilling out a rant. Steve has worked on responding in the moment so we can work things through together instead of holding things inside.
Months later I can barely remember the content of our argument. But I do remember the oysters beforehand and I would rather have a bad association with them than with his turquoise shirt.
To sum up. They make you sick. They bring on war as much as love. They are gross.
Three strikes oysters…three strikes.
But then again maybe I should just suck it up and suck one down…there should be no whining on the yacht.