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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Frugal Fun in France: Huitres/Oysters

Like Funny About Money, I am still the the realm of grade inflation. Unlike Funny: she is done.

I am also in the land of MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER. Everyone is stocking up on seafood and freezing it against the future shortages. I can't participate: my freezer is full and I don't think seafood benefits very much from freezing. The one thing I wish I had--and would find a way to freeze--is shrimp shells, which make a great stock, more shrimpy tasting than shrimp, believe it or not.

As it happens, Frugal Son, during the waning days of his year in Nantes, reported on some frugal fun with his friends:

Frugal Son: went to this little town on the ocean (a bit past the famous Guerande) and collected...
me (Mr. FS): Cool!!!
Do it there, because the oyster beds are being closed here.
FS: I know :(
me: Was it an oyster farm?
FS: we collected about 25 dozen
me: did you dig them up?
FS: it was near an oyster farm
so these were the "strays
30 - 35kg or so!
me: Did you oyster-knife them open?
FS: yeah we used an oyster knife
they were soooooooo good
much brinier than our gulf oysters
me: Never had any that fresh, though I suppose it doesn't matter.
FS: but I still have about 30 left in the fridge
so I'm about to go to the store to get ingredients for an oyster stew
I ate about a dozen and a half raw
and then another dozen bbqed in their juice on the half shell
the next day I went with a friend's boyfriend to his cousin's house and I brought oysters as a gift

And I know some of you are thinking it, so I have to put it in: a bit from Lewis Carroll's The Walrus and the Carpenter

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?

Oh, this used to give me the creeps when I was little. Still does, come to think of it. OK, must return to grading exams. I will leave you with a famous line from Shakespeare: Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

How I love literature!


Funny about Money said...

Worried about your state and the state of Louisiana cuisine. Will there still be a Louisiana when there are no more oysters?

The more apparent that this fiasco resulted from kill-the-beaster nonregulation--or possibly, some reports have implied, even corruption?--the more infuriating it gets. As if it weren't infuriating enough from the git-go.

Fresh seafood is easier to come by here than it used to be--for years there was no such thing as fresh seafood, unless you hauled it out of a lake or river yourself. Grocers who would sell "fresh" fish would, when confronted, admit that it was defrosted frozen fish. Now for a price you can get some kinds of fresh fish, and a couple of big Asian markets sell live fish out of tanks. But it's very hard to find oysters...and they're certainly not very fresh.

How I miss oysters! In San Francisco there used to be a street kiosk a block or so from the wharf where you could get an order of oysters, fresh sourdough bread, and a glass of wine. It's been gone for a long time, alas. It was so wonderful...

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--I actually hate raw oysters. But, if you come to visit, you can go to Acme Oyster House, which will--I hope--have their 25 cent oysters a few days a week. You can go with Mr. FS--he's always looking for an oyster companion.

Duchesse said...

I adore French oysters, and to me the way to eat one is right out of the shell, just a squirt of lemon. But I understand some people do smoke them :)

What a splendid time FS has had!

Thinking of you every day as we follow this disaster in the news.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Thanks for your thoughts.