Le maître, at work

Le maître, preparing the sacrament

Here’s something that’s a profane, but very, very funny: “How To Eat The Raw Oyster, Goodness In Its Pure Form.” I have sanitized it for the protection of the sensitive. Excerpt:

Here’s the thing. Raw, fresh oysters are amazing. An oyster, in its fresh and raw form, reflects with gem-grade clarity the place where it grew, some far-flung place that—because the oyster was just harvested and just now cranked open, with water from that place still in its shell and body—you are able to experience more or less exactly as it is right now, even though you are very far away from it. The difference between a Maine oyster, intense and face-crumplingly briny, and the gentle, sweet oysters from off British Columbia, is not a difference of culinary technique, or style, or fanciness of equipment, or accompanying flavors, or the friggin’ gluten content of its breading, or any of the other embellishments we heap onto most basic foodstuffs as we prepare them for eating. It’s precisely the difference between the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Maine, and the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia, and nothing else.

This is a pleasingly simple and elegant notion that would mean nothing at all if not for the additional, and certainly more important, fact that fresh, raw oysters, from places where the water is cold and the conditions are favorable for oyster growth and feeding, taste g**damn wonderful and are a genuine gas to eat. This part, though, you will have to find out for yourself. This is a great time to do so, close to the peak of their seasonal excellence. Are you excited? A little bit afraid, but also excited? Yes? Let’s do this!

And if you have ever eaten a Marennes-Oleron from France’s western coast, you know how spectacular the oyster can taste. It’s the Chartres Cathedral of the huître! And it’s the exclusive oyster of the Huîtrerie Régis, a tiny St-Germain oyster bar that is one of the most magical places on the planet. If you are a lover of raw oysters, I forbid you to pass through Paris without savoring a dozen chez Régis. Above, M. Régis himself shucking a dozen for me. And good on him for doing so, because according to the essay, shucking is … well, read on:

And now, the awful part. Shuck your g**damn oysters. Now, look. You read about this sh*t in a cookbook, or you watch some oyster-shucking professional do it at an oyster bar, and it seems so simple: You grip the oyster in a sturdy hand-towel with the hinge sticking out; you work the tip of an oyster knife into the hinge, push down, and rotate the blade slightly until you feel a small pop at the separation of the top shell from the bottom; then you slip the knife deep into the opening, press it against the top, and slide it the length of the oyster shell to separate the oyster itself from the top shell; and then, finally, you slide the knife under the exposed oyster to separate it from the bottom shell so that it can be eaten, and voila! The whole thing takes maybe three, four seconds! says the book or video or oyster-shucking dude at the wharf.

And that is just a buncha bulls**t right there. Or, anyway, yes, that is the basic procedure for oyster-shucking, and it is quite simple and quick—for people who have done it

Me, chez Régis

Me, chez Régis

ten trillion times and have thus developed forearms the size of large dogs. For the rest of us, I am very sorry to say, this is a miserable, fumbling, cursing, desperate, vain-seeming chore—at least the first time—in the commission of which you will expend literally all the metabolic energy you will ever have, and during which you will come to suspect, and then believe, and then go**amn know that this is not an actual oyster at all, this is a fu**ing stone, this is just a go**amn hunk of fu**ing shale and I am attempting to shuck a hunk of shale when instead I should be taking it back to the fish market and bludgeoning the prankster fishf**k to death with it.

It gets even better. Or worse. Certainly funnier. Read the whole thing. DS, this is for you.