Monday, August 21, 2017


Oyster discussion, Fortnum and Mason

After I’d eaten those oysters at the Blue Point restaurant in San Diego I got a craving for more.  I’d also been seeing the news about an oyster vending machine on the île de Ré, off France's western coast, where customers can go and buy oysters any time day or night.

I see the appeal, but the fact is, I’ve never had much of a problem buying oysters, the problem has always been opening them.  Over the years I have developed, well I wouldn’t call it a skill, but at least a basic competence, but it’s not been easy.

My pal Susanna Forrest directed me to the rider in Grace Jones’s contract – along with all the wine and the fruit platter, and the sushi and sashimi, she wants  2 Dozen Findeclare or Colchester Oysters on ice (unopened)—(Grace does her own shucking.)”. 

She also wants them to provide an oyster knife, but If I were Grace Jones I’d carry my own.  I think an oyster knife is a very personal thing.  It took me a long time to find the one that suited my personality. That’s it below along with the little rubber doodad meant to hold the oyster while you open it, but in truth I don’t always use it.  Sometimes I just hold the bivalve in a thick work glove.

I went to my local Vons supermarket, that I know sells oysters at $1 each, and I could see them nestling there in the ice at the front of the fish counter. I thought they looked pretty good so I asked for six but the guy behind the counter gave me seven, saying “Just in case one of them’s off,” which didn’t inspire confidence.  But as you see they turned out just fine.   And at seven for $6 they're probably the cheapest oysters I've ever bought.

As a coda: while digging around for background I found this thing, I’m left not sure whether it’s a wonder or an abomination.  It’s the Nemco 55900 ProShucker Power Shell Separator. “Opens up to a dozen oysters per minute, Little to no pressure required, evacuates all mud and shell fragment, Provides 100% meat yield with minimal contamination,” all of which I suppose is fine if you’re running a restaurant, but having taken a decade or three to perfect my technique, such as it is, I think I prefer the human touch, just like Grace Jones.

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